You guys… what a year! And what in the time warp? My daughter, Aria, turned one and I can hardly believe the transformation that she’s made in just that short a time. I know people say time flies but I literally just gave birth to her yesterday. How is she already a year old? Well, over the year, as you know, I’ve given here a different career every month to encourage her to imagine, play and dream big. Here’s that year in review.
Twelve Months Old – Service – Firefighter, Police Officer, Marine
Thank you for watching her journey and encouraging her for greatness. Even though the picture series is over, cultivating her imagination never is. Always tell your kids how great they are and that nothing is impossible.
My Bug just turned one and let me tell you, what an event it was. I had the most fun celebrating her and with her. As a crafty, EXTRA, mom (I told ya’ll I’m very extra) I had to everything and do everything big. We are in Texas after all. So this post is dedicated to everything Aria… in Onederland.
So I recently had to go away for a work trip and leave my baby with my husband and her grandmother. Now, I’ll tell you, this has absolutely nothing to do with my husband’s ability to care for our child (he did great – a little more about that later) or my mother’s knack for giving her treats that are too advanced for her age – isn’t that what grandma’s do? It totally has to do with me and what I didn’t expect to happen to me – but it did. Dunh dunh dunnnnhhhhh…. separation anxiety.
Y’all. I have a great village. You don’t even understand, an absolutely phenomenal village. A host of family, friends, cousins, play cousins, pretend aunts, best friends and the like, all vying for a chance to take care of Aria. It’s a beautiful thing. There isn’t a moment that I think she won’t be taken care of if I have to go somewhere or, God forbid, the worst happens. The girl is set in terms of love and care. I trust and believe that on my heart and soul.
But, I had to leave her. I was good leading up to the trip, but the closer the trip got, the more I began to dread the inevitable. As I began to pack up her things – three bags to be exact – one for grandma’s house, one for dad when he travels with her to meet me, and one to bring with me on the trip for when she arrives – the anxiety got worse and worse. I kept telling myself to keep it together. Keep it together. The next thing I knew, it was time for me to go. Oh. My. Gosh. What do I do?
Do you see that face? It’s like she knew I was leaving her and couldn’t believe I could be so heartless. I’m smiling on the outside and a complete basket case on the inside. As soon as I put her back in the car seat and stepped away from her, the tears began to flow and the doubts began to flood my mind. Will she still love me just as much as before? Will she remember me? Is she going to be angry at me that I left her? Will they take good care of her? What if something happens and I’m in an entirely different country? How fast can I get home? Will Dad be able to travel well with her? What if she has a meltdown on the airplane? What if she can’t pop her ears? WHAT IF THE PLANE CRASHES????
Can you see the rabbit hole that I was falling into without any sort of safety harness. It was complete madness. Here’s what I did to cope.
1. Just breathe. Stop. Take a step back and relax. It’s going to be OK. It really is. I promise. Aria has a great community surrounding her, as I mentioned before, so I remembered that so many people love her and will gladly throw themselves in moving traffic to protect her. So she’s probably safer with them than I am on the trip. She’s good to go. Realizing that, brought me from a level 30 to a level 25. So if you’re in the same situation, understand that your village has your back – and more importantly – your little’s back.
2. Have plenty of memory material. This was a saving grace. I promise, with no shame whatsoever, that I looked at the same 4 or 5 pictures of Aria at least (and this is no exaggeration) 50 times a day. Put the pictures with the smiles and the videos of the coos and laughs in heavy rotation. Just seeing her face and hearing her voice made me feel closer to her. Level 25 to 15.
3. Stash a toy. I took one of Aria’s toys with me on my trip. Did I want to play with it. Nope. It just smelled like her. Every time I closed my eyes, I would take a deep breath of her in. It was almost like I was nuzzling her. When you need a cuddle of your baby and she’s (or he’s) not there in person, this was the next best thing for me. It really did work wonders. I even slept with it. There’s no shame in my game.
4. FaceTime. However, you need to video chat do that. I have an iPhone so FaceTime works best for me. But if you have a different channel of communication, use whatever gets you in front of your little by live video. They’ll be so happy to see you and vice versa. While I was on with Aria, I told her about my day. I let her know that I missed her and would see her soon. FaceTiming did a couple of things; it gave me an opportunity to see her AND it reinforced the fact that she was being well taken care of by the village.
5. Get busy. Don’t sit around and mope. The saying is true – time flies when you’re having fun. So you may not initially feel like a party, get out there and do something. Whether it’s work or play, if you get immersed in activity, you’ll look up and the day will be over. Now you’re one day closer to getting back to your baby.
6. Anticipate your reunion. The closer it got for us to get back together, the more excited you’re going to be. I promise for me it was like waiting for Christmas. I was like a kid on Christmas morning, the day I was back with her. My husband showed up with her at the hotel and I literally ran through the hotel and out the doors to the shuttle. I was overwhelmed with emotion and was so happy. It was almost like I had just given birth again. The joy. The happiness. The love.
I was so proud of myself for getting through my first trip away from my daughter. It made me feel confident that I could do it again – which I will have to do in the near future and will have to go through all these steps again. But I’m prepared. And I’m not ready. LOL. Sigh. Good luck.
My daughter loves to explore everything around her. She is a virtual sponge, even at 4-months old. She is so alert and attentive, I’m always so shocked that her attention span is greater than 30 seconds.
So for our family activity, we decided to go to the Cockrell Butterfly Center in Houston. To let her see the butterflies and see if they might like her enough to try to land on her. If they did, I would hope that she wouldn’t try to eat one. These days everything is hand to mouth. Luckily, they only flew nearby and we never had to have a butterfly emergency. Tiny meltdown, yes. Eaten butterflies, no.
She got all the compliments. There was even another baby there that lost quick interest in the butterflies and only had eyes for her. Step back little Romeo… no boys allowed until she’s 45. Her bow looked like a butterfly and so she fit right in. Join us on our journey.
One of the hardest things for me to do after I had the baby was to get back in the mood — if you know what I mean. I just couldn’t pull it together. I felt like a whole hot mess, my body was out of whack. I wasn’t getting any sleep (I’m really still not) – so exhaustion covered me like a soaking wet blanket. My sense of self had all but disappeared (you mean showers, hair combing, AND makeup are necessary???) so I felt ugly. And let’s be real here, libido… what libido. It went on vacation… without me. So it was very easy to slip into a daily routine of work, baby, pump, baby, hi husband, baby, half-eaten dinner, baby, time for bed (at 7 pm), baby, baby, baby, morning, baby – repeat.
Where was the time for me and my husband to connect? Truthfully, there was no time. And we didn’t make time. We got in the business of life and baby and completely forgot about us. Until, that is, I broke. The baby was asleep and I was like – Come on husband! It’s go time! And I was excited. Until I got shut down. What? My husband didn’t want me? It hurt me to the core. But the truth is – he did, and does. But contrary to popular belief ladies, men need romance too. So thus came the changes. Here’s how we worked our way back to fireworks. It’s my six secrets to bringing the insane, can’t-keep-my-hands-off-you, kisses and cuddles romance back from vacation.
1 – Laugh. Be silly with each other.
For me and my husband, this one was kind of easy. Even though I did forget how to laugh a little, he was always there to crack a joke and to remind me that “it’s just not that serious.” It’s so easy to fall into a rut where nothing is funny at all. The baby is crying and work was stressful. What exactly is there to laugh about. How about that 2 inches of burnt crust on the chicken you just made for dinner. Frustrating? Yes. Funny as hell? Absoutely. Go ahead and laugh. It’s OK. Laughter eases the tension and also relieves stress. Still can’t laugh, remember that time you were trying to be sexy and the whole thing went left? Come on… everyone has that one time they were like Jamie Lee Curtis in “True Lies ” and fell off the bed. Laugh at it. Then go in the room and try again. Watch a comedy special – there are bound to be some raunchy jokes in there that you probably can relate to. It may just give you some ideas too. But the point is – laugh and give yourself permission to let go and be silly. It’s going to help. I promise.
2 – Put down your smartphones.
There’s no bigger mood killer than separating yourself from your significant other than to be mesmerized by Facebook. Put the phone down slowly and walk away. Social media was supposed to help us be social, however, when it comes to making romance, it’s one of the fastest ways to ruin the mood. Trust me, you can respond to Jane’s post AFTER you’ve connected with your boo. That electronic glow is not reminiscent of a candle. So light a real one a get it poppin’.
3 – Don’t co-sleep.
For me, this was one of the hardest things not to do. It was so easy for me to get up in the middle of the night, breastfeed, and then just lay the sleeping angel right next to me so she wouldn’t wake up. And let me tell you, when the baby is in the bed… there’s no getting it on. You just can’t get in the mood. Put the baby in the bassinet or the crib and allow her (or him) to cuddle while you and boo cuddle. And if you’re the type to raise the roof during the deed, go ahead and let the baby co-sleep at grandma’s. Or a friend’s. You’ll thank me. Also, sleeping is so much baby when you’re not afraid that you’re going to roll over on top of the kid and smother her. And that good nights sleep you’re going to get will help you with exhaustion… so you’re not too tired for romance. Feel me?
4 – Do date night or date day.
Go out with your loved one. Get a sitter and get out of the house. Creating memories is the key to being silly and laughing and sparking that ember into a raging flame. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as it’s fun. Go on a picnic. Or to the movies. Or to dinner. Go dancing. The most important part of the date is remembering to leave the business of life at home. No serious talk. Forget about work. You go back to work tomorrow. “Forget” about the baby. I put forget in quotes because you never really forget. Just don’t make her the main topic of conversation the WHOLE time. You might as well have brought her with you. It’s tough. But doable. Do talk about taking a vacation and how special you are to each other. While you’re doing whatever it is that you’re doing… hold hands. Kiss. Caress. A little PDA never hurt anyone. Try to do it at least once a week. If you’re really ambitious, twice.
5 – Get in the kitchen.
My husband and I love to cook. We work very well in the kitchen. So pull out recipes that you both love. Make sure some of the foods you cook are aphrodisiacs and will get your juices flowing. While you cook, sip on a little rosé. Nibble on some strawberries. Brush against each other. Seductively taste the food and offer some to your babe. Shake your bum a little bit while you bend over to get vegetables out of the crisper. Kiss. Flirt. All while listening to a little Teddy Pendergrass. Which brings me to my next point.
6 – Do what Teddy would do – “Turn Off the Lights.”
Teddy Pendergrass had it all figured out. Turn those lights off. Light a candle. Get closer. And get – it – on!!! Nothing says romance more than a little sexual healing. So do it. All the puns intended. Run your special someone a bubble bath and then invite yourself in it. After you get out, pat dry but forego the clothes. Keep the birthday suits on for a sexy full-body massage. Take turns getting all the kinks out, and then get kinky. How about that. Get creative. Spice things up. Just remember, all the heat doesn’t have to be contained to the bedroom. There are all sorts of places in the house to explore. Just sayin’. Go have fun.
I hope this helps you to spark some romance. It has really helped me. It’s easy to get off track, but if it’s important, you’ll make the time. Don’t forget about you and your love life. It’s just as important as other aspects of your life. You’ll be a happier camper. I guarantee it.
Photos by WesleyAnn Knetzer (unless otherwised credited)