How far we've come

I’m trying something new for the new decade.

Rather than thinking about everything I want, need or “should” accomplish in the year (and years) to come, I wanted to bolster up my tender soul and peek back at how far I’ve come.

As 2019 began, I considered my relationship with food — and the new attitude of moderation, not deprivation I wanted to adopt. I’d joined a “Biggest Loser”-style weight loss competition at work, but my heart wasn’t in it. I’ve obsessed about my body in the past. It wasn’t pretty. I “succeeded” at slimming down then . . . but at a cost.

I’ve changed. Grown. Had babies. Lost sleep. And you know what? I like myself — extra pounds, wiry white hairs and all. I want to care for my physical health, of course, but not at the expense of my mental health. I’m a person. I have ups and downs. Sometimes I eat chocolate. It’s OK. Last year was about growing in that self-acceptance, and I made progress.

My goal the year before was all about getting a handle on my phone addiction. Quoting yourself is a new level of obnoxious, but I think this anecdote from early 2018 sums it up nicely: “I knew our household phone scrolling obsession had reached a disappointing low when I noticed our two-year-old dragging his finger tip up and down the screen and clicking the home button on my iPhone, pretending to pose for a photo (a selfie, even — a bit outside my norm). ‘Cheese!’ he shouted.”

I have reconsidered my relationship with technology. Like most kids, Hadley and Oliver watch and imitate everything they see Spencer and I doing. In the evenings, as we’re all snug on the couch after dinner and baths, I resist the impulse to reach for my smartphone.

I want my children to “catch” me reading, not playing Candy Crush (I save that for after bedtime). Now that I’m prioritizing novels over refreshing my Facebook feed, I feel much more centered. The kids are happily watching “Peppa Pig” . . . and I’m allowed to be something other than a supplier of cheese balls and milk for 10 minutes. I don’t have to feel guilty for reading.

So my personal goal for 2018 is a big ol’ check, too.

Backing up to 2017 is more challenging. At seven months pregnant, I was a certifiable hot mess — physically and emotionally. I cried a lot. The idea of welcoming a second child when I was still so unsure of what I was doing with the first one felt really overwhelming.

As I wrote then, “. . . [M]y main priority is simply to survive the exhausting newborn days again. I don’t know if it’s better or worse to have an actual idea of what we’re in for? I could stick my head in the sand before, pretending I was prepared. But you’re never really prepared.”

That’s true. You’re not. But Spencer and I adapted far better to life as a family of four than we did as a family of three. “The jump from being just a couple of freewheeling newlyweds to new parents of a preemie was . . . extreme,” I wrote. “Like, leaping-between-skyscrapers-without-a-safety-net extreme.”

But Hadley was and is a true delight: the spunky daughter who completed our family. We’ve had some trials as parents of two. I have, in fact, fled outside barefoot on a winter night just to get away from the chaos and breathe. But we did survive the exhausting newborn days again — and thrived. Check.

As 2020 dawns, I’m still learning and changing. But I feel happier and more self-assured than I have since becoming a parent. I felt a shock of pride re-reading what I shared shortly before Hadley’s arrival: “If 2016 was my year to gain some footing as a parent, I hope 2017 is the year I learn to roll a bit more with the punches … I’m sure the path will have its busted cobblestones and I’ll trip a few times, but we’ll keep going.”

We did. We will.

Happy new year!

Twitter: @rightmeg