I don't know If you've heard of this phrase, but these are unprecedented times. Kidding, as long as you are at least two years old I definitely know you've heard that phrase.
It's kind of crazy to think of all that has happened in two years time. To all of us, I assume but alas I can only speak for myself. Since March of 2020 I have managed to work from home with a baby beside me, buy my dream home with the love of my life, celebrate my first born's first and second birthdays, gotten a new job and learned an entirely new field (capital markets), and am now in the throes of planning a wedding with Rob. Life keeps getting sweeter, and I know that with each new sunrise, I am new as well. Life will inevitably ebb and flow, but I get a little better at rolling with it each time something new arises.
Gavin is in a bit of a strawberry phase. There are certainly worse evils with which he could be preoccupied so believe me, the lucky stars have been counted. However, our local Kroger is hellbent on depriving us on this front. To be fair, I don't think we're really supposed to be able to access strawberries in the dead of winter in Indiana, but we lead a life of privilege so they are often available. At any rate, Gavin and I had to swing by the store on Monday after work in search of strawberries. He needed to take in his car snack, because how is one to shop for a new snack without the current snack in hand? I wouldn't know, I'm not a monster.
We secured the goods (two boxes worth) and stood in line. Luckily, everyone loves Gavin so we made some friendly conversation while waiting for our turn to check out and become the proud owners of those strawberries. While I was getting us through the self checkout, buddy dropped his mini crackers all over the floor.
It was one of those tiny moments, the ones that can make or break an evening. There is also a third option, which is to just let it be and not allow it to define a thing.
Rob and I agree on many points, and one of those is the concept of "body positivity". We are both firmly on the side of "body neutrality". I don't think it's super productive to pretend I love the six inch scar connecting my hips from the day I met Gavin. It isn't ugly, and it isn't beautiful.
It just is.
So I set down the toddler (who is very much a flight risk) and trusted him to stay near me. He did, and he also heard me say, "that's okay" while I bent to pick up the crackers. And not in the "that's okay, but I wish my eyes were laser beams that could sear right through any obstacle in my way while I also simultaneously dissolve to become part of the landscape" type way. He will sometimes drop crackers, or whatever similar equivalent applies to him at that time, just as he will also absolutely astonish me in his myriad ways. I "drop crackers" all the time, myself. I want him to see me drop them, sometimes even crush them up until they're hardly discernible, and then I want him to witness the cleanup, the restoration, the being okay.
I won't always react as my most evolved self. She's a great gal, but I can't be her all the time. My lowest self is also a great gal, and I'm not her all the time either. I don't concern myself with being a perfect example for Gavin, because that shit doesn't exist and I think it's important he knows that. If he can watch me give both him and myself grace, I'm hopeful he can one day do the same for himself and those he loves.
Pema Chodron said,
"Since death is certain, and the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing?"
I don't pretend to have the answer to that, but it sure has made me think.
Today was pretty normal, which is of course a gift.
A normal day means my people are healthy and my day operated according to schedule--the dogs didn't even have an accident in the house! Hell, maybe this day should be classified as superb for that fact alone.
I've been thinking a lot lately about how much effort goes into making things appear baseline normal. It takes great skill to make any task look easy. Have you ever tried to cut someone's hair? Bake something from scratch? Survive a pandemic with some semblance of sanity?
There are exceptions to every rule of course, but much like T Swift I know I've never been a natural, all I do is try, try, try.
I am getting more comfortable cutting Rob's hair each blind stab in the dark I take at it (twice now, and he still loves me so I guess I may not be too bad at it). I know that excellence takes time and mastery and patience. But when am I going to master the Covid life?
It's something I often wonder, as we're a year in now and I am still front row on the struggle bus. You too? Yeah, probably. We're all figuring it out, all the time. If it wasn't the Herculean effort of juggling WFH full time with childcare and general life, it would be fighting traffic and daycare runs and less time with my loved ones. I hold space for the difficulty of the season while also recognizing the immense privilege it's wrapped up in.
I hate to spoil my earlier question for you, but:
I'M NOT GOING TO MASTER IT.
Life is one of those things that I don't believe can be mastered, regardless of the effort put forth. The game can change in one breath, one second, one decision. I won't master Covid life, or the life that comes after. I can only master my response to it all.
I let go a little easier each time I remember that fact.
The Dainty Days used to look so different. My days used to genuinely be so different! But they never felt as good as they looked. Today, they feel so SO much better than they look.
These are the days.
I genuinely don't know how to show up on the internet anymore. To be fair, after 2020/Covid I don't know how to show up most places anymore.
I started The Dainty Days back in 2014, and my oh my life looked very different! Even before that, my very first blog was started off as kind of a diary for me to share my day, my outfits, and general thoughts on both. This was back when bloggers were bloggers rather than influencers, and I wanted so badly to join their ranks! I was a fresh college grad working in a field I had never intended to join (retail) that slowly started sucking my soul dry and strengthening my misanthropic tendencies. The Dainty Days was my personal haven and I had such high hopes for where it might lead.
I now find myself in a different field I never intended to join (finance), working and mothering and living through a pandemic. The Dainty Days didn't turn out according to plan. Neither did my life--it is so much better than anything I'd planned. I now find myself missing the haven I'd created for myself on the interwebs. Getting caught up in growing a following and working with brands distracted me from what I actually set out to do--write.
My life, interests, and hair has changed drastically in the last six years or so, and thank God for that.
I look forward to sharing a new perspective and...whatever else comes to mind honestly. I am a lot more than a gal who loves to braid hair, and it feels good to break free of the corner I braided myself into. I don't get dressed every day, I certainly don't do my hair every day, but I do learn how to let go and lean into life a bit more each day.
Thanks for being here.
Today Gavin turned one.
Well, he's almost one. They finally yanked him out of me at exactly 8:35 pm, so we're awful close.
I never got around to writing his birth story...it's like having a newborn baby is hectic or something? This seemed like the right day to talk about it so here we go :)
As a little background, I spent the few months leading up to his birth moving into my new house, learning how to handle my finances, waddling around to work and doctor visits, and vehemently disagreeing with anyone who told me I would surely be having Gavin early. I also referred to Gavin as "Boris". This was a name I picked after being inspired by the adolescent drug dealer and verified miscreant in the novel The Goldfinch. I throw this in there to let you know I was so scared of this child that I couldn't even call him by name. He was due on Christmas Eve and I was certain he'd be here after New Years.
This was purely out of self preservation, as I was positive I was in no way ready to mother. The nursery was set up, the maternity leave too, and yet I was so deep in denial I could hardly see straight. This was not how my life was supposed to look when I brought another human into the world.
It sure is handy that God prepares the called, rather than calling the prepared.
In case you didn't know, giving birth is so glamorous. I really don't know why some people act like it's difficult or anything less than utterly sublime. You feel connected to the baby immediately, you both sleep through the very first night together, and then you ride off into the sunset.
Unless you're a human woman, on earth, in which case it can be a tad different than that.
I arrived to the hospital around 5 or so in the morning when contractions were roughly 5 mins apart and I genuinely had no clue what that day would turn into. I was pretty much confused from the second I stepped into the hospital until I stepped back out of it again -- to say the process is fully explained and user-friendly to the first time customer would be a bold-faced lie.
When I finally got my hand to steady enough to sign my name for the epidural, I could breathe again. If they had asked for my right arm in exchange for the epidural I'd have gladly paid the price.
Gavin was "sunny side up" and apparently that was causing some problems. After multiple attempts at flipping him and nearly four hours of pushing, an angel of mercy finally threw out the C word and away we went to the operating room after the easiest decision of my life. I started sobbing once this was an option and the nurses kindly explained to me that C sections are okay too and that there is no shame in that. OF COURSE THERE IS NO SHAME! I was crying in relief that I could finally stop what we all knew wasn't working and get that baby out into the world where he was ready to be.
Because we'd spent so much of the day trying to get hime to come down and out, we got to begin the C section process by pushing him back up again. It was every bit as lovely as it sounds.
It was more than worth it though, the second I heard his cry.
When I got to see his tiny, angry face for the first time, my very first thought was
"He has my dad's nose!"
Imagine my delight to report that he also has his momma's eyes, except prettier.
Unfortunately the long attempt at getting him out ye old fashioned way left him a little worse for the wear and after one night next to me, it was off to the NICU for buddy. He had a subgaleal hematoma, which to my understanding is a bleed outside of the skull, and left the back of his head very soft and kind of like a sand bag. We spent three days in the NICU getting him healthy while we got acquainted, and the nurses there were so incredible to us that it felt like I got to have a little crash course in how to care for a newborn.
I will never forget when I asked if they had a pair of clippers for his tiny nails since I hadn't packed one, and it was suggested I just bite his nails myself as that's what most moms do. I informed her we had only just met and were not yet on that level so he could just wait until we got home. I mention this in case a first time momma needs to hear it's okay not to immediately bond and stick like glue. I'd never been around babies much, and though the love was there from the second I saw the positive pregnancy test, our bond took more time than that. I now "clip" his nails with my teeth without so much as a flinch.
When Tay came back to visit me, I had to meet her in the waiting room as visitors weren't allowed in the NICU because of flu season. Imagine my delight in discovering the pair of panties I'd worn in to the hospital on the morning on Dec 20th wadded up in my pant leg! Of the leggings I'd been wearing in public for more than a day! Tay had stuck them in there when I handed her my clothes after changing into my hospital gown and they apparently stayed right where she left them. Honestly it gave me the laugh I needed in the midst of a scary situation.
Once buddy was cleared and we were good to go I felt like a fugitive when they discharged us. Like are they sure I was ready to take this entirely dependent creature home??
I was, it turns out.
Having spent a year loving more fiercely than I knew was possible, my heart has expanded in every way. You really can't fully grasp what your parents did for you until you care for someone else in that same way. Parenting is the most selfless act I've yet encountered, and it also gave me a new understanding of our Heavenly Father.
Gavin doesn't scare me anymore. Life doesn't scare me anymore. I now know that if I have to cling to something, that thing (whatever it is) is not for me. The right things will always find me, and I will become prepared for them in due time.
I was told to enjoy this year, because he'll be my child forever but a baby only a year.
I completely understand the sentiment, but I'd like to expand. The same is true for all our relationships, at all times. Life isn't lasting, so each stage certainly isn't either. I think 2020 has cemented that one for us all. I spent my maternity leave trying to fit back into my work pants, which was a super good way to spend precious time when Gavin was asleep considering I've spent the entire year working from home. This was something I couldn't have predicted, just like most everything else in my life.
We have no idea how long we have with our people, and though the "firsts" are easy to track, the "lasts" won't be. I am holding space in my heart for every first of Gavin's and I am much more present with my people these days, when I am so lucky as to see them.
Gavin was born a year ago today, and I was too. What a year it's been.
...and I have NO RAGRETS, not one letter.
In my experiment with my half year of less, I decided to not shop outside of the necessities until the end of 2020. Much like Cait realized during her own experiment, it would be more aptly described as a "browsing ban" more so than a "shopping ban". I have to shop for my normal such and such, it's aimlessly browsing that then leads to unintentional spending that I'm looking to stop.
As a thrifty girl who loves to peruse the aisles of all nearby Goodwills, I knew this would be painful to stop doing. I prefer to remove temptation rather than test my willpower so I initially decided no more Goodwill visits until 2021.
I really wanted a desk.
I won't say "need" because clearly my life has been going along well enough without one all these months while working from home, but I wanted a place to station my WFH setup that I wouldn't have to keep moving around.
I had been popping into any Goodwill I passed while driving alone for a few months now and had absolutely no luck so far, but yesterday I found my new girl. The one I've been waiting for. So I pulled the $57.77 trigger and I have never been so excited to bring a piece of furniture into my home!
It should also be stated that as I contemplated buying this desk, I traipsed through the clothing aisles. I found a Madewell flannel that I absolutely knew I needed, shopping ban be damned! In my former thought process, I would've had no problem rationalizing spending another $5 on top of the nearly $60 I already was. This time, I put the flannel down and paid for the desk while beaming on the inside and hell, maybe even the outside.
I am sharing this because little victories are indeed victories, and I'm counting this as one. It's the thousand little promises we break to ourselves (that seem so insignificant) that teach us not to trust our own damn selves. I want to be a trusted individual, to myself most of all. I really believe we show up for others how we show up for ourselves.
Here she is!
Behind the dainty days is a whole lot of planning. And coffee.