Pumpkin Spice Latte Ponderings

This post is inspired by the prompt: 2.) Coffee Talk! Share your first pumpkin spice latte of the season with us.

I ordered my pumpkin spice latte (non fat, no whip), thanked the barista, and stood to the side in anticipation. It’s my favorite part of fall, my morning stop at Starbucks for a foamy pumpkin drink to compliment the brisk chill in the air.

I notice a mom sitting down with her son. Her hair is unwashed and her t-shirt is stained. She is wearing black yoga pants and sneakers and I don’t see any make up on her face. She is tired and happy and enamored with her little boy that coos and drools as they wait.

I see you, Mom at Starbucks. I see you rub your eyes as you try to capture some bit of sleep that eluded you the night before. I see you fidget in your clothes when the well dressed woman comes in to order. (I do it, too.) I see you smile adoringly at your son.

I see you because I’ve been you. I’ve been out, looking at the world through tired Mommy eyes. I used to wear the uniform of black yoga pants and stained t-shirts, unwashed ponytails and a make up free face.

And I wonder, if you know, that soon, very soon, you will be out of this baby phase? That black yoga pants and stained t-shirts will turn into jeans and “nice” t-shirts? That your hair will be clean and styled and make up will one day again become a part of your routine?

I only know, because I was there. I was in the baby phase and then, it seemed suddenly, I wasn’t.

The day I stood waiting for my Starbucks was a day that my four year old was in preschool. I was wearing jeans and a long sleeved shirt and makeup. My hair was washed and down and I had a morning of time to myself. And I wondered if it was even evident that I had a son at all? Strange to think it wouldn’t be when he’s such a large part of myself, but it’s unsettling when parts of yourself aren’t’ always with you.

Those early years seem so very long and exhausting and constant. And then, they are gone. Your days may still be long and exhausting but it’s a very different kind, and there’s a freedom in having an older child that allows you to welcome things back into your life that you had to let go of. And one morning you may find yourself alone in a Starbucks actually looking at the new mom with a little bit of envy, because the phase of life she is in is so very beautiful and so very fleeting.

But no matter what stage of Mommyhood you find yourself in, I think the morning coffee part? Is essential.

Mama’s Losin’ It

The big 2-9

I have to be honest…I kinda love my birthday.

I love the way October 16th creeps in each year bringing with it the vibrant colors of orange, red and yellow in the leaves. I love the way it ever so subtly drifts in a scent of bonfires and crisp autumn air in the breeze. I love the way mid-October hits in the midst of the busy-ness of pumpkin picking, football games, fall festivals, and chilly nights.

I always have high expectations of my birthday, which is a little silly, but on the years I haven’t made it a celebration, I always get bummed out. (I couldn’t think of a more eloquent way to put that.) (Side note: I’m exhausted from making 1244,090987 homemade baked goods for my son’s bake sale this week.) (Did you know that when you are Parent Council chair you have to be in charge of, like, everything? Including the big fall bake sale? I don’t think I knew this.)

This year I am turning the big 2-9. It’s the last year of my twenties. I hear so much about making this year count, what a big deal turning 30 is, and even know people who have before 30 bucket lists. Which, if I’m hoping to accomplish, I would need to get a start on yesterday.

The thing is, I can’t wait to turn 30. I am not going to be that girl who is “29-for-the-third-time.” I am going to be that girl who is 30 and loving it! (I hope.)

I just think 29 is kind of a lame birthday. Nothing really happens this year. And it’s the age that people say they are again when they are 30, so all year I feel like if I say I am 29, people will think I’m just lying and I’m really 30. (Or, more likely, no one will put that much thought into it.)

That really did happen on my husband’s birthday last month. We went out to dinner and had the traditional free dessert on your birthday brought out, with NO singing. (The hubs is not as into attention as I am.) The woman at the table next to us told him happy birthday, and said, “Isn’t it great to be 29 again?” To which we awkwardly explained that he was, actually, just turning 29.

I know some people whose goal was to have all of their children by 30, or publish a book by 30, or get a PhD by 30. I never really had a before 30 goal in mind, so turning 29 just brings me one step closer to…well, just turning 30.

I have also heard of designated decades for life phases. The twenties are meant to be for partying and working your way up in a career. The thirties are for settling down and starting a family. The forties are for finally feeling established; having control over both family and work life. The fifties and sixties are for winding down your career and starting to relish in grandchildren. And I like to remember the advice of my great grandmother who just celebrated her 99th birthday in September, who says “Life doesn’t’ start ’till you’re 80.”

The truth is, life starts whether or not you chose to make it start. Life happens everyday. Our greatest plans fall apart and our greatest blessings unexpectedly come together.

I didn’t spend my twenties being completely selfish, or partying, or writing books, or establishing a career. I spent most of them going in and out of depression, being a wife, and learning to be a mother. To be honest, this decade of life has been pretty tough and I am quite excited to see it winding down. I’m so ready to fully embrace myself as a woman; one who is comfortable in her skin, confident in herself, and believes in her own truths.

And so as I enter into this last year of my twenties, I will remember that this is my last year to sport the number “2” at the beginning of my age and my last year to say “I am in my twenties.” But I plan to make this year count just as much as any other year; because they all count so very much in the story of our lives.

So today, I raise my Pumpkin Spice Latte to toast turning 29, and look forward to all of the years to come, even the ones that will start with the number “3” next time.

 

 

My birthday gift from the hubs this morning, pink roses, a Pumpkin Spice Latte, and a bag full of chocolate!

 

My mom also gave me some new clothes and a new footstool for the end of my bed, and I am looking forward to a girl’s night out this evening!

*Did you notice that Elated Exhaustion looks a little different? The blog re-design has been in the works since August and has just been installed in time for my birthday!*

 

 

 

The Difference A Year Makes

Last year, at this time, I was a nervous wreck.

I barely slept the night before. I tossed and turned and hugged my little boy tight throughout the night as he slept beside me in bed. I woke up early and dressed myself and my son and slowly carefully drove the 12 minutes it takes to get from our house to our destination.

It was my son’s first day of school.

He was only going to a two-day-a-week preschool program from 9-12, but it was the first time he had ever been away from me. He had never had a babysitter and I rarely even let family watch him. To be honest, he had never even been with my husband alone for more than 4 hours. The school separation was going to be a huge deal, for both of us.

When I dropped my son off in 2011, he screamed and cried and I finally had to leave him crying there while I walked out under the teacher’s advisement that he would stop crying and settle more quickly if I was gone. This, I knew was true. I used to be a teacher, after all. But it didn’t make it any easier for me to be the mommy that had to leave my crying baby nearly in tears myself.

With mixed emotions of apprehension and excitement, I drove away from the school and went to Starbucks. I ordered a Pumpkin Spice Latte, and made myself comfortable in one of the bar seats facing the window. I watched as people scurried to work or shopped at the outdoor mall. I felt pangs of quilt and frivolity for the luxury of being able to people-watch on a Thursday morning when most people were working or in school. I felt unencumbered and oddly uneasy with my new-found alone time.

After trying to enjoy my latte and spending a little too much time in my own head, I decided it was time to leave Starbucks. Except it was only 10:15. And so I drove to my son’s school and sat in the parking lot until noon, anxiously awaiting pick up time. I just did not know what to do without him for that long. I felt like a piece of me was missing.

This year, at this time, I was ready.

As it turns out, I got pretty used to my two mornings off a week last year. I spent most of last year re-discovering my identity outside of motherhood and I felt pretty exhausted after a long summer with very few breaks from constant toddler care.

The night before, my son slept in his bed while I slept in mine, (for the first half of the night anyway).

This year, my son is going into the three-year-old class three days a week from 9-12, but with extra curricular activities of soccer, art and gymnastics after school each day, so I will be picking him up at times ranging from 12:30 to 1:00pm. His school is no longer a new environment, but a trusted and nurturing one.

We were both excited for school and I may have driven a little over the speed limit to get us there.

I walked my son in and dropped him off in his new classroom. Though he was a little hesitant and a bit nervous when we arrived, he became distracted with washing his hands in the new (to him) big boy bathroom in the three-year-old class. I gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, said, “Mommy loves you,” and slipped away with no tears from either of us.

This year, I went straight to Starbucks, ordered my Pumpkin Spice Latte, and drove home to my house where I set up my laptop, lit a candle, and spent some time enjoying the fall weather, listening to music, blogging, and soaking up every second of my blissful alone time.

This year, I may or may not have been a few minutes late to pick him up.

What a difference a year makes.

First Day of School Pics

Noah’s first days of school. Left: 2011, 2 years old, apprehensive. Right: 2012, 3 years old, attitude.

Noah playing with play dough at school Left: 2011 Right: 2012

Little Moments

Things that have made me smile today:

  • Dropping my son off at pre-school for his second day in the three-year-old class, knowing that he will have fun and that he is in such good hands with teachers that will love him and take good care of him.
  • Driving alone in my car, listening to the radio a little too loudly.
  • Getting my first Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season today from baristas that know my name, ask about my little boy, and know my order.
  • Sitting on my back deck feeling the beautiful breeze as it floats the scent of the “Autumn Festival” Yankee Candle I have burning beside me into the air.
  • Surrounding myself with silence, typing, tastes and scents that relax me.
  • Taking the time to ignore the chores and choosing to listen to life’s little pleasures.
  • Remembering that before there were days of mommyhood, there were days of me.
  • Giving thanks for this life, this house, this moment, and all of the blessings that have gotten me to this day, this time, this now.

My perfect fall morning.