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Location: Northern California

Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Mother of my own destiny

I've been thinking a lot lately about my life as a mom, particularly my life since I became a mom to two kids.

Emily is 4 years old and Thomas is 2.75 years old. My kids are seventeen months apart, which means that in early 2004, when Emily was 8 months old, we were trying to get pregnant again. We succeeded, and Thomas was born in December of 2004.

After writing nothing for months, I started my Mom Writes blog on January 31, 2005 and posted one entry in which I wrote, "I've started a new online journal. Hopefully this will make it easier for me to post my musings."

The next entry I posted was in June, when I wrote, "I'm having a hard time finding the time to write in my blog."

Life was hard; I will not lie to you. Even though I made Emily an "I'm the big sister" T-shirt when Thomas was born, she was still very much a baby. She still drank her water and juice from a bottle and wore a diaper. She couldn't get in her car seat by herself. I had to carry her when we crossed the street because she had no concept of cars or even of walking in a straight line. She still sat in a high chair to eat.

Thomas was a baby who liked to nurse, cry, and wake up a lot during the night. He demanded--and got--a lot of my attention. I wore Thomas in a Baby Bjorn for hours every day. I wore him when I made breakfast, when I exercised on the elliptical, when I made lunch, when I went grocery shopping or to Target, when I made dinner. I wore him at playgroup and when I took Emily on outings. Every night I took off that spit-soaked Baby Bjorn with a sigh of relief. Honestly? I don't think my back will ever be the same.

Life with two children--two babies--became a series of well-rehearsed routines: what we did morning, noon, and night; what we did each day of the week and on the weekends; how we got into the car; how we stocked the diaper bag; what we took with us when we left the house. Leaving the house was always challenging.

I struggled to keep happy during January, February, March, April, May, June, July, and August of 2005. I often felt isolated, alone, misunderstood, and overworked. I did a little bit better in September when Mike and I decided we could afford to get me some help. Hiring a nanny to come over two days a week improved my outlook considerably and the skies again looked blue. Just like that.

I could end this post right now with the advice that if you're stuck in a mother rut, get help. For me, it worked to hire a nanny who could also double as a nighttime babysitter if we needed her. We never again had to miss important events because we had nobody to watch our kids. That was big.

And as time went on, life got easier. The babies became toddlers, then the toddlers became preschoolers. I like preschoolers, especially when they use words like "please" and "thank you." My kids are best friends who play with each other whenever they're together. I meet with other moms for coffee and conversation, in playgroup settings, and for the occasional mom's night out. Having time to myself on a regular basis keeps me sane. I exercise, try to eat right, and make sure my clothes fit me to avoid the depression that falls when my pants are too tight. I travel with the kids, go on lots of fieldtrips, and take them on road trips, even when I cry at night because I am so tired of being a mother and of having to take care of other people whose needs seem more important than my own.

If you read my blog, you might think that my life is easy, that I have no cares in the world, and that things have always been that way. You might see me as a spoiled suburban housewife, a gym-going mom with a nanny and a lot of clothes who whines and writes in her blog when her lunch at a mid-scale urban restaurant is interrupted by the antics of her typically well-behaved children who aren't even developmentally delayed.

I do have a good life, but it didn't--and doesn't--come without a lot of hard work, a lot of trial and error, and a lot of tough decisions and determination.

I'm proud of the work I've done as a mother and yet I don't think my story or history is particularly unique. All moms work hard. I believe this to be true whether a mom has no nanny or ten nannies; is single, married, or divorced; works outside of the home or not; has children with learning disabilities or children who are gifted.

Whatever the particular circumstances that make the work challenging--whether they're short-term, long-term, temporary, or terminal--the tricky part for me is translating the hard work into the knowledge that my life is good because this is my life.

My life with kids is what I make of it, and I have chosen to make it a good life.

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