Who knows what brought you here. Maybe you’re one of two or three people that aggressively follow my journey (I love y’all) because they genuinely feel invested in it and me. Maybe you’re a total stranger. Maybe you’re someone who lurks in my social media but we’ve never (or barely have) hung out offline. Whatever your reason, I appreciate you.
Anyway, now that I’ve sounded totally vain so far…..
I’m not going to dive into the reason I’m at this point in my life quite yet. But a quick rundown would be that I’m 37, overweight, was totally lost and had no idea what I really wanted out of life. It’s really gotten kind of vanilla, you know? Then a newborn niece swooped in and gave me a purpose I wasn’t prepared for and has already totally altered who I am as a person. I’m not quite sure how to feel about it right now and I’ll process that when I actually find the time (or get more sleep), but it’s been a great thing.
Before I ended up in an arrangement to have her with my husband and me while her biological mother got things in order, I really was bored of everything. Things that I used to love to do, I stopped doing. My human contact offline was reduced to my husband, his sporadic visitation with his kids (from a previous relationship), and seeing his extended family here and there. He also has two nieces in particular that I grew very fond of and I especially enjoy getting to take on the auntie role with them. They were the ones that made me realize a while ago that I wanted to grow the family. But there was a void I really needed to address and that was my entire lack of social life.
I guess the reality was that I basically starting veering towards a permanent hermit lifestyle. I used to have this thirst for adventure and I always look at my passport longingly. My husband has only ever left the country to go to Mozambique a couple of times that I know of and has otherwise barely explored South Africa (by my standards). That has always left us with a curious dynamic because I tend to think from a global perspective and his view was very localized.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ve sacrificed that opportunity by deciding to be in this relationship. That doubt itches my patience because there’s no way to know for certain but lately, I’ve realized that I’ve been missing the one thing that I’ve always preached:
“The only thing holding you back is you”.
I guess it’s easier said than done because I sure as hell wasn’t doing it. I should be tired, but having to look after this baby the past 5 weeks has kept me on my toes in a way that I wasn’t prepared for. I had to wake up. I had to try harder. I had to do more. I was now responsible for a human being and I had to get my shit together. She mattered that much and I wanted her to be able to stay where she’d have access to her family. She’s loved like that.
I had to grow up fast and improve myself in ways I had been stalling on. But today I realized that my phone was paired with my fitness watch and between the two have been tracking my sleep habits over the last month. I had been getting an average of 4 hours and 21 minutes of sleep. Only 1 hour and 17 minutes was even deep sleep. Since the baby came to us I had been losing self-care time to look after her. I needed to balance myself a lot better. I needed to be a little selfish too.
So every day I started to block off time that I was to be left alone so I could do a little something for myself like sit in a super hot bubble bath and make myself look presentable for no one but myself. Or maybe I’d just want to leave the house for a half hour or so. This morning I wanted to write and made my husband take baby duty despite me being off of work. Every day was a little different. I had to be unapologetic about it too.
The past 6 years had been rather sacrificial on my part. I had to give up trips back to the US or having some of the basic things I had back in New York. I gave up my social life and access to the Brick Bar and its awesome jukebox. I miss my family. While all of this newer tech and the social media era allow us to be voyeurs in each other’s lives, seeing my parents almost a year ago made me realize there was nothing quite like being around your family.
(I do want to note that it’s after 8 am and the baby- and my husband- slept through the entire night. I stayed up folding and generally doing laundry. He knows I’m writing and the baby is starting to fuss. I’m waiting to see if he asks me to change or feed her when he knows I’m busy. Choose wisely, sir….)
I guess the shorter version is that I realized I’ve been selling myself short. Caring for this baby shouldn’t change that, really. I wasn’t doing what would make me happy professionally and I was at this crossroads because I essentially had to decide whether or not to find another job or get back into gig work so I could focus more on the baby. It’s not even 100% certain that she will be permanently placed with us. But at some point, I was ready for more in life. I wanted happiness. Becoming smitten with our new niece over the past several weeks made me realize how little I had been loving myself.
I decided tonight that I’m ready to do what makes me happy and if it doesn’t work out I can say that I gave it an honest try. But I have a few little kids that are impacted by how I live my life and I wanted to make sure I was the best role model I could be. When my 5-year-old niece started singing K-Pop songs while we were shopping (something she picked up because I always play my favorites for her) a few weeks ago it really hit me how much the kids do absorb parts of your character.
I guess I’m not really as alone in this as I let myself feel. I might have a little team, but it’s a strong one. They deserved my best effort. Who knows what door it’ll open or what direction it’ll take me, but I needed to invest more in myself so I could be a better person Now it matters a great deal.
No one writes a manual on this and I don’t expect it to be a flawless journey but if you’re along for the ride, I’m happy to see you here. I’m happy to build a better foundation for my future self. I’m looking forward to meeting her. So every day I will do something towards that goal. It might be something different each day but that level of mindfulness is already evolving and growing. This is all a challenge I’m excited about.
So….who knows what this next chapter will bring, but let’s find out. I need to know how this one ends.
But for now….he handled the diaper change. He let me finish this without any interruptions. That’s a small gesture I’m so grateful for.