At times, I tend to overwhelm myself with whether or not I am putting enough effort into parenting. Am I doing enough? Does Alo have enough to keep him occupied? Am I killing his brain cells by letting him watch 22 minutes of "Sarah & Duck" every day? Am I providing him with enough activities to do? Am I reading enough parenting books? Am I already behind in researching homeschooling? I scroll through Montessori-themed blogs and Instagram feeds I follow, thinking that I am lacking.
But then I step back, breathe, and remember all of the milestones that my son has reached:
I also remember the stumbling blocks:
Fellow parents of young children: we will forever walk atop the fence dividing the sides of: "Are we doing enough?" and "How can I be a better parent?" It's a necessary evil at times, but it doesn't have to lead to self-degradation and shame. Join me in this challenge———Today I am making several appointments in my phone calendar for the next 2 months. Every Sunday evening, I will ask myself: "How did I do this week as a parent?". On the last day of every month, I will plan to look for age-appropriate activities for my son to enjoy and appreciate, keeping in mind what he needs from me as a parent— whether it be specific emotional support or filling in some gaps on supplies we need. Let me know if this helps you over the next few months, and I'll update you as well. The only way we can improve is to mark our progress and remind ourselves that we are doing the best we can! Make a list of amazing things your child can do, and This ramble was mostly a personal reminder for me, but I certainly hope that it helped you in some shape or form.
Below are notes for myself to reflect upon over the next month on things I could be doing better!
Notes for myself:
Things I could improve at:
I always wake up a little groggy, still not used to the realization that you've been sleeping through the night for 4 months now. I never wake up before you, I'm still catching up on z's I lost when you were learning how to drift off to dreamland uninterrupted. Someday I'll get up before you and be productive or exercise or something. But not yet.
You're happy in the mornings, but still
clingy snuggly. I don't mind. Since you've weaned and since Daddy has been away, I'll gladly sit with you under the covers while you slurp down your morning yogurt with syrup. We're both still warm with sleepiness, and you haven't started wiggling too much yet.
You've started sitting at a small table—like a big boy—and I hate to break your routine, but I just can't resist the closeness and the heat of your little body. You used to cuddle so freely when it was my body that was keeping you nourished. Maybe I should feel more appreciative of them now that they're on your own terms.
If I'm lucky, I'll put on my pot of tea and get around to drinking it before it gets too cold. (That's what microwaves are for, right?) I have a stainless steel thermos somewhere that would keep it piping hot for me, but there's just something about drinking from a pretty tea cup that makes the constant re-heating worth the inconvenience.
Meanwhile, you've begun your morning work: removing every single book from the bookshelf, before you begin dropping dominoes down the slots, peeking in afterwards and smiling at me for approval while they 'plink!' against each other. This is only the first of many rounds of this activity. I'll pick up and re-shelve your "babies" (books) a thousand times so you can relive the joy of removing everything from its place.
At some point after I scroll for a little while, you find my phone, and practice your own photography skills.
These are the details I want to remember before they change into something new. In a few months, you'll be walking and our morning rituals will undergo a drastic change. I love watching how you change, but I mourn the loss of each stage before this one, and look forward to each new one with excitement. I love you, Alo Monroe.
This is what a lot of life has looked like lately:
Not so much the bunny ears, but there has been a lot of Video Chatting happening this Summer, and now Autumn. For those who aren't aware, my husband is a medical student. On top of that, he is in the Air Force too (notice the beardlessness in the above photo, much to my dismay).
This season of school and life has meant a lot of training and a LOT of traveling. Sometimes I feel lucky at how "adventurous" we get to be, by traveling around and having lived in several places so far... but then other times, man do I just want to be home... in a routine and settled. Then after a week of being back and settled, I get restless again! The grass is always greener, I suppose.
So far since June, Jared has been to 5 states (not including ones driven through)— Ohio, California, Nevada, North Carolina, & now Florida. All to make our life better. To work hard to figure out what the best next step for our little family's journey is. I am so in awe in how hard you work, and how you rarely complain.
I've had to figure out how to do things alone. For the sake of all of our sanities! IT IS HARD. I miss your company and your presence. I miss our dumb inside jokes that we always regret attempting to explain to other people (we're not as funny as we think we are). I miss holding hands while you drive. I miss sitting next to you in church, smiling while you experiment with your singing—trying to find the harmony while we join the congregation in singing hymns.
In all honesty, I'm better when you're around. Your presence makes me WANT to be better. You bring out a focus and drive in me that I can't explain. And when you leave I turn into a pumpkin again. A pumpkin that is seriously tempted to eat scrambled eggs or cereal for every meal.
I think the thing I miss the most though, is that magical hour or two in between you coming home from work and Alo's bedtime. Where you both light up the room with your love for each other, and I turn a blind eye while you toss him a little higher in the air than I probably would.
Then after cleaning up dinner and talking, we cuddle up on the couch. I argue about what we're going to watch on Netflix while we scroll for a good 20 minutes. You put up with it, even though we both know full well that I am just going to fall asleep 10 minutes into whatever we end up watching anyway.
Monday can't come soon enough—we get to discover Florida with you, a place where we might live in just 8 short months. It's too soon to tell where we'll go for sure. For now, I look most forward to you coming back to New York, and enjoying that last slice of time in this home and soaking in the last true Autumn and snow-filled Winter we'll get for at least 3 years.
Thank you for everything you do, my love. Home is wherever you are.
Alo Monroe Baird. You, my playful little fox, have been with us for an entire three-hundred-and-sixty-five days, though it feels like you've been with us from the start. You've given my life so much more depth and meaning than I could have ever imagined. You helped me find myself, my purpose, and the drive to be the best I can be so I can be an example for you. I keep looking at this paragraph, feeling like I need to write more about how much you mean to me, but I don't think I could come up with the words if I tried.
There's so much I don't want to forget about you in this stage—you're changing and growing so much I can barely keep up. You've been waking up at night this past week, I think, because your brain is developing at the speed of light. You're still not walking, but your language has starting pouring from your lips! It surprises me when you call something by name so intentionally.
I've probably forgotten something somewhere about you. The time we've had together is so full, but at the same time peaceful. I don't want to forget any of it . . . But all I can do is watch you grow, and keep taking photos of it. I love you, Alo Monroe. You are my everything. Happy First Birthday.
Hello world. I'm back. (( With my own website this time! ))
Backstory: I used to blog religiously. Like several-times-a-week, too-many-photos, share-the-link-on-Facebook type of blogging. I'll admit, sometimes I definitely over-shared certain things in my personal life. But, I don't really regret it. What I do regret is stopping blogging. When I got engaged to my husband, life got a lot busier but also a lot simpler in lots of ways. I was in my last semester of college, Jared was applying to medical school, and we were gearing up to move to the other side of the country. So... something had to give. Blogging, music, and writing in general were just a few of those things that seemed to fall by the wayside. I became comfortable with the age-old excuse of "well, all that angst from being single is gone so....guess I'm all out of material!" I also didn't feel like I had to impress anyone anymore. I didn't have to prove that I was pithy or clever or talented to my peers. I started to shrivel up creatively, and when I moved away to a particularly unfriendly small town in Pennsylvania, I started turning more inward and becoming more private, for fear of judgement. That is not a time of my life I hold with much fondness and it really affected me.
I also had a bit of an exhausting experience with writing in general. I went through a time in my life where I had made a few close friends through a creative writing class, and a few in my editing program in college. We were passionate, perhaps naive, and ready to get published. I loved that time of my life dearly. I know I had a good story brewing inside of me, and I brought the best I could to the table in my novel-writing class, and am still to this day proud of that work. However, I think the pressure of finishing something I knew was really more of an exercise than something that would come to end up on a shelf at Barnes and Nobel, really bothered me. I felt compelled to finish it like how you're sometimes compelled to finish a book you don't like BUT you've started and there's noooo going back now. There is, I believe a bit of an unhealthy culture among writers that "YOU MUST WRITE EVERY SINGLE DAY OR ELSE YOU ARE NOT A REAL WRITER AND WILL NEVER AMOUNT TO ANYTHING." Like the DMV, Home Owner's Associations, and anything else mandatory and bureaucratic, the pressure to write every day turned into a chore that I resented. Combine that with many months of freelance editing some truly terrible self-published YA novels, and I got burnt out and tired.
I'm not writing this because I feel the need to explain to anyone why it is that I stopped writing. I'm not embarrassed that I failed at something. I'm proud that I can admit that I failed at something and that I've learned more about myself in the process. I'm writing this to give myself permission to write again, whenever the heck I want, however often I want, and to share a piece of myself with you again. I'm ecstatic to report that I am much happier than I've been over the past 3 years. I live in a town that is much warmer (though not temperature-wise), and have made life-long friends I know I'll look forward to seeing again throughout my life.
Obviously, this is a photography website first and foremost, so I plan on sharing lots of fun client and personal work with you! So while this post has few images attached, look forward to seeing many more in the future. I have found something I truly L O V E doing, and hope to rekindle the relationship I had with writing in the process.
Until next time!