364 Days of Motherhood

I’ve been typing and erasing sentences for ten minutes now, trying to figure out how to begin this post. It’s hard to know how to put it into words, this whole fact that I’ve been a mother for almost a year, that Ben has been around for that long. It seems impossible to me. I know people often say that they can’t imagine life before their kids were born, and it’s not like I’ve forgotten what it was like to sleep past 6:30am or how to participate in conversations with adults and actually use the right words to make sentences… but it is also SO hard to get it through my head that there was a time when Ben wasn’t here. Sometimes I feel like I was waiting for him my whole life.

06.14.2014 :: tiny photoshoot

I wrote about motherhood when he was six weeks old, and how contradictory things felt then. Even re-reading that post before writing this one was strange, because it feels like a lifetime ago that we were still so deliriously tired, or that Ben was ever quite that small. When we see other parents when we’re out and about, they look at Ben and then to their 5/8/10/15 year old and just say, “You’ll blink your eyes, and he’ll be this big!” and I kind of hate that but wasn’t it just the other day that we were losing our minds at Ben’s first real smile? A million years and just a moment ago.

08.01.2014 :: his favorite spot

There seems to be two ways to talk about parenthood – some people write beautiful, poetic things about how every day is a gift and there’s magic in the smallest moments and how the day their baby was born was the best day of their life and make sure you savor every moment because they’re only this little once and everything is sunshine and rainbows… and others connect over how impossibly hard it is to be someone’s parent, how NOT sunshiney and actually covered-in-poop it can be. And it’s really both. (And that may be why I don’t know how to write about motherhood in the first place…) I don’t think I have EVER been as happy in my life as I have been in this past year. I think back to how angry I’d get over things that would go wrong at the various jobs I’ve had, and even on the bad days, I never feel that anger anymore. (Not that I won’t again soon, because you know what they say about toddlers…) But realizing that really makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing. Sometimes, I go to check on Ben before I go to sleep and I just can’t handle how much I love him and how he’s ours; the giant poster I printed with all of his monthly photos made me cry, just seeing it all in front of me at once. Whenever I try to write about how awesome he is, the words just don’t seem like enough, so I end up just saying “oh, this little guy” instead. And other times, when he’s just dumped the cat’s water bowl again and is pissed at me for taking it away, or he’s turning a simple diaper change into a challenge that’s what I imagine wrestling an octopus might be like… it’s so frustrating.

Ben, eight months old

I feel like my life makes SENSE now; I’m good at being Ben’s mom and that makes me feel amazing. And yet, we bought a minivan a few weeks ago and I’m struggling with the idea that not only am I “only” a mom, but I’m a stay at home, minivan-driving mom who doesn’t have a lot to talk about that’s not her baby and how his naps went today.

I suppose the one thing I can say about motherhood is that it’s one giant contradiction. It’s wonderful and it’s strange. I feel more myself than ever before, but I also don’t really recognize myself some days.

15/52

Sometimes people ask if I miss working, and I don’t, not even a little bit. I’m actually growing to like the minivan and its 15 cupholders. (Maybe they’ll finally make me surrender my Hipster Club membership card!) I love taking Ben to storytime and his classes at the baby gym. It’s all going so fast, but he’s so funny and fun to be around and I miss him so much when I do get out by myself to do things that aren’t taking care of a baby.

19/52

I’m rambling, as ever, but mostly, it comes down to this: this little brown-eyed boy, my impossibly wonderful little baby and this life the three of us have? It’s just the best. I’ve wanted to be a mom for my whole life and it is everything I hoped it would be, every little bit of it.

16 – 17 / 52

16/52
16/52

Ben has been such a good eater these days, as we introduce more “people food” among the purees. His favorites by FAR are blueberries and cheese, although black beans and peas (frozen, not canned, don’t think he doesn’t know the difference) are pretty close seconds.

17/52
17/52

Ben’s favorite past time is chasing balls around the house. He’s surprisingly speedy at crawling (he has taken a few steps!!! but still prefers to crawl for speed most times) and will bat the ball away and crawl after it for seriously extended periods of time.

In 2015, I’m taking a photo of Ben each week with my real camera.

14 -15 / 52

14/52
14/52

I realized the other day that Ben’s little red converse fit him, but just barely, so I wanted Dan to help me take some photos of the two of us wearing our chucks together. It was also Ben’s first time in the grass, and he took off crawling, no fear. So it wasn’t so much the posed photoshoot I had in mind, but my dirt-covered little guy had the best time. Barely contained, flailing arms and legs, dirty knees and all.

15/52
15/52

When Ben sleeps on his side like this, he seems so little to me, and it makes my heart explode into a million pieces. He’s growing so fast and getting so close to toddlerhood… but moments like this remind me that he’s still my little baby for a while yet.

In 2015, I’m taking a photo of Ben each week with my real camera.

Ben in March

10/52
10/52

One of Ben’s new favorite games involves launching himself back and forth across the couch, often in search of the remote. Here you can see the tiny hunter triumphant with his prey.

11/52
11/52

Ben spends a LOT of his time standing at what we’re calling his “work benches” – aka any surface he can stand next to (the ottomans, the couch, the side tables, etc). He’ll stand there with whatever his toy of the day is, smash it on the table, drop it, squat to pick it up, repeat.

12/52
12/52

Ben is OBSESSED with Luna, and spends a lot of time chasing her around the house, which is adorable (especially because she never runs very far, thereby encouraging Ben). I sometimes imagine them being BFFs when he’s older and kind of can’t handle how much I love it.

13/52
13/52

This kid doesn’t really like to stay in once place anymore, and his current favorite place to play is the kitchen. He loves pushing the chairs around and playing behind the curtains.

In 2015, I’m taking a picture of Ben each week with my real camera.

Currently: March

I miss those little wings

missing the little wings over Ben’s ears. I gave him a microscopic trim a week or so ago, and it was good because mostly, the hair just hung weirdly over his ears, but I totally wasn’t prepared for how much older the haircut makes him look.

reading like a fiend and loving it. I just finished All the Light We Cannot See (you should read it!) and about halfway through The Rosie Project (so fun, if a little Big Bang Theory-ish).

listening to podcasts as I drive around – especially loving Elise Gets Crafty (of course), Radiolab, The Lively Show, Dear Sugar Radio, and Strangers.

eating Reese’s peanut butter eggs (the seasonal ones are where it’s at).

anticipating some 40 degree weather this week; I’m going to take ALL the walks. (It’s amazing that 40 degree weather feels balmy after weeks and weeks and weeks of weather in the teens and 20s.)

pushing myself out of my comfort zone by going to two events run by my local Mom’s Club, even though it was intimidating and awkward at times. (And I’m going to keep going.)

planning my next tattoo, which I’m getting very, very soon. Eek!

writing morning pages for the first time ever. It’s been YEARS since I have written in a paper journal and since I’m having trouble figuring out what I want to say in this space, it has been wonderful. (But my handwriting! Holy cow, I had no idea how atrocious it had gotten until I wrote more than what fits on a 3×4 card!)

buying brightly colored, springy nail polish. Winter has been TOO LONG and it’s time to hurry the springification of my little world.

marveling as Ben learns new things and gets into something new every time I turn around. It’s a whirlwind, but watching how fast he’s figuring things out is amazing and wonderful.

hearing everyone we know tell us either, “You’re going to have your hands full with this one!” or “It’s all over now!” now that Ben is so mobile.

dreaming about warm days and no socks and open windows.

7 – 8 – 9 /52

7/52
A side effect of Ben being able to pull himself to stand is that he is often waiting for me like this when he wakes up from a nap, all excited to see me. Which is one of the happiest things ever.

8/52
I’m not sure when it started, but Ben totally cheeses for the camera now – not my phone (because he’s always trying to grab it and chew it), but the real camera. I think it started with my dad’s camera, since I still think he takes more photos of Ben than I do. But given how many blurry phone photos I have of him these days, the big smiles he gives me when I have the big camera are even better.

9/52
Always with the one sock, this kid. I swear I put socks on him every day, but the swiftness with which he rips them off or crawls them off is impressive.

In 2015, I’m taking a photo of Ben each week with my real camera.

Project Life: January

Project Life continues to be one of my favorite things ever, and since 2015 began, I have been trying to keep up the momentum I had in finishing my 2014 album. I feel like I spend a lot more time looking at blog posts and instagram photos of other people’s spreads, and it makes me want to get my hands on paper and printed photos of my own really badly. So far this year, I have been ordering prints of my photos once a month, and then making the pages once the photos arrive on my doorstep. This is partly because more often than not, when it’s time for my free time during one of Ben’s nap, I have to do basic human things like shower and eat. (The logic there being that it’s easier to edit and order photos in one chunk on a weekend, rather than in ten minute increments each week. I’m not sure if this process will continue to work, but I’m going with it for now. Even if it bums me out to have to wait so seemingly long to actually make pages.)

I have decided to use a 9×12 album this year, after two and a half years of working with the 12×12 size. I wanted to change things up, and I was also thinking that the slightly smaller page size might be easier to keep up with. I also theorized that I’d use a more “interesting event/noteworthy day” set up, as opposed to the more strict two pages per week method I’ve used up until this point. I’m not sure if it’s my rather… orderly… personality, but so far? It’s mostly working out to be two pages per week. I am giving myself a little more leeway when it comes to leaving out photos or days that don’t seem all that interesting, though. So maybe it’s working? Or maybe I just like the freedom of not feeling like I have to put a card with the week number in there each week? Either way, I’m enjoying the creative jolt that the different size has given me so far. Oh, and I don’t actually have an album yet, because I wasn’t totally jazzed about the initial release of 9×12 albums. But there are different designs/colors supposedly coming soon, from two sites, so I’m hoping I can get one soon. (Having my pages loose is making me nuts.)

So here are my January pages!

jan1
I’ve been really drawn to black and white lately, and I always like to keep my title pages relatively simple (and full of stripes, of course). I am using a printable calendar from Harley Quinn & Co for monthly calendar title pages, printed 5×7.

jan2
I’m also including my weekly photos of Ben in my spreads, and it’s really nice to know I have a really good, non-iPhone photo of him to include each week.

jan3
These pages included some major milestones for Ben (which I’m also documenting in his baby album, but they were so noteworthy I had to include them here, too), as well as our two year wedding anniversary. I hesitated to include a photo from two years ago in this year’s album, but the photo makes me so happy that I had to include it.

Project Life: January
I keep finding myself drawn to gray and black and white when it comes to journal cards and filler cards this year, so this was my attempt to make a concerted effort to include color. I sorted all of my cards by color right after the new year, thinking it would make it easier to find cards that coordinate with the photos on my pages, but I keep reaching for black and white cards. I’m wondering if it’s a winter thing, or if it’s more of a style evolution. This week was also a great example of just using the best photos – last year I would have used an insert for those beach photos, or just included one, and it was so fun (and liberating!) to be able to include all of them.

jan5
And this turned out to be one of my favorite spreads of the month. All of the photos of Ben on the left side are from one afternoon the day after he learned to crawl, and most are screenshots of a video I took. (And therefore all blurry and grainy, so black and white was absolutely the way to go!) He has been SO busy and all of my photos of him are blurry these days, and I like that these photos reflect that.

So that’s it! I’m hoping to be able to get my February photos ordered today, because I can’t wait to keep working on this.