I’m Back and I Got You a Giftcard

There are many different configurations of words I could put together to start this post in the new year.

Like why I haven’t blogged in forever or how busy I’ve been or tell you stories about my show or December craziness or Christmas or New Year’s or the time that we let our son have his first sleep over and he slept better away from home than at home. (Which is so, so frustrating.)

I’ve gotten so behind in my writing life that I’m not sure how to even pick it back up. Then I felt like I needed to write something amazing before I came back…but the words for that never came.

And I definitely thought I’d be back to writing once my son’s school was back in session but then it’s been cancelled this week because it was cold. I’m not even kidding. No rain, no snow, just cold outside. Longest winter break ever.

So here I am, back with a post. It’s kind of like I went on vacation but all I brought back for you was this lousy t-shirt. Sorry.

Over the past few weeks (months) of hiatus from blogging Elated Exhaustion celebrated it’s two year anniversary. When I started this blog I was full of words and stories and it was all I could do to keep up with the words as they flowed through my mind and out of my fingertips. I never could have imagined not being able to find words to write.

Even though I’ve been terrible at it lately, this blog is still such a special space for me. I very much appreciate all of you who come to read the words I write in this small space…even when I forget to write them.

So to honor you, and in my annual blogiversary tradition, I am giving away a $25 Starbucks giftcard and a chocolate bar. I wish I could have a chat with all of you over tea and chocolate.

Obviously, my New Year’s Resolution needs to be to keep up with blogging. While I work on that, you can enter below to win. Good luck and I hope to catch up with all of you soon!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Elated Exhaustion’s One Year Blogiversary!

Guess what? Today is Elated Exhaustion’s one year anniversary!

 

Happy Blogiversary!

Happy Blogiversary!

Don’t worry, I forgot too, because in my mind it was December 27th and I had this whole post outlined for you to celebrate one year and as it turns out, I wrote my very first blog post on December 26th last year.

December 26th. Why did I do that? So now it’s like Christmas and a birthday all at the same time.

But anyway, on the day after Christmas last year, I started a small little blog called Elated Exhaustion.

Newly opened presents still decorated the living room and the Christmas tree and other lights still twinkled around the house, making our home feel much more cozy than usual.

Much like today, it must have been a cold day that made you want to curl up in pajamas and read or watch a movie.

One year ago today (I mean, yesterday),  I wrote my first post on Elated Exhaustion, a small little post entitled Is That Chocolate or Poo? which welcomed you into my world of toddler motherhood. It got no comments, and the only person I showed it to was my husband, but there it was in writing, the beginning of my blog.

When I started this blog, I was very lost. I had struggled on and off with postpartum depression and spent hours at night crying myself to sleep after the husband and baby had drifted off.

When I started this blog, I had a two-year old still in diapers and a world that revolved solely around my role as a mother.

I felt lost from myself and isolated from a support system.

I didn’t tell anyone about my blog. Not my mom, not my family, not my friends. My husband was the only one who knew about this little space I had created, and really I only told him because it would’ve been really hard to hide it from him if I was going to spend a lot of time writing.

I didn’t tell anyone because I needed a space of my own. I needed a support system beyond those people who already loved me unconditionally but I felt at the time didn’t quite “get” me. Still struggling with my birth experience,  I started this blog because I needed a space in which to connect with other moms who had some of these same struggles, who could relate to me, who could tell me that I wasn’t terrible or crazy.

I started this blog with the intention of sharing my birth story, which a year later and three years after the actual birth I still have not found the words to do. Finding them is still a goal.

But I also started this blog to find the missing parts of myself, the parts that had become buried under the weight of my motherhood. And in doing that, I found you.

In May, I wrote a post that best summarizes why I write in a post titled, appropriately, Why I Write. My favorite  and still the most relevant line? “I started writing to find myself. I continue writing to find you.”

I had discovered the world of “mommy” blogging in the fall of 2011, a few months before I decided to start one myself. I would spend late nights pouring over words and once I found a blog I loved I would read post after post until the early morning, devouring the gift of words and stories these writers told.

The first blog I ever found was Not Super Just Mom, who I instantly loved because like me, she is a graduate from the University of Georgia and suffered a traumatic c-section experience with the birth of her first child. Her words were the ones that first saved me.

I later discovered Late Enough through Richmondmom.com, whose down-to-earth life approach I love,  and Spilled Milk and other Atrocities, whose words can weave a beautiful story that brings tears to my eyes almost every time.

I would read each of these blogs and treasure them as if they were precious jewels. I felt like they were just my own hidden discovery.

As it turns out, the blogging world is not just made of 3 blogs and they are not just my own little secret discoveries  The blogging world is huge, a whole community of people stretched across the world, writing stories and sharing glimpses into lives that make you feel not alone. And, as I discovered after I joined Twitter, they all know each other. When I started this blog, I didn’t just find a place to write, I found a place of support, a place of friendships.

If you had told me a year ago that this blogging community would come to mean so much to me, or that I would become so dependent on the comments and thoughts from other bloggers, or that I would make true friendships online, I’m not sure that I would have believed you. In the course of this year, I have discovered many more blogs that I have fallen in love with, and made blogging friends whose opinions I truly treasure and even depend on. I talk to my husband about my blogging friends and carry pieces of each of your stories around with me. (You can see some of my must read blogs in my blog roll. There are many others I keep up with in my reader.)

With every post I write, I become braver about sharing my world. Each time I hit the publish button, it is with a delicate balance of vulnerability and bravery, and each time I receive a comment on my blog my heart smiles with the contentment of knowing the love and support you have all given me.

As I’ve learned more about this blogging world, I’ve discovered so many more blogs, writers, and friends. The year of 2012 was a very big year for me in putting the pieces of my life back together post motherhood, and this blog and your friendships have been a big part of that.

This year, I potty trained my son, became the mother of a three-year old, re-discovered my performance self, decided to take blogging seriously by getting a blog redesign and move to wordpress.org, and became a “real” writer when I had the honor of joining the Moonfrye team. I have had the pleasure of sharing all of that on this blog with you, and of starting friendships with so many of you through blog comments and Twitter conversations.

This little blog that I started as a space of my own blossomed into a thing that people actually read. As it turns out, my mom and my family and friends did discover it’s existence and a few other people I know “in real life” too. Though it scares me to now actually know that people are reading this, it doesn’t change the amazing tool it has been for me in a path of growth and healing.

A few months ago, my best friend from childhood said, “You know, I think you’ve gotten a lot more confident since you started the blog.”

Another one of my best friends recently texted me, “You’re getting spunky again.”

And I received one of my most treasured compliments from a person “in real life” who found my blog and said she poured over it entry by entry until two in the morning one night, just as I had done with some treasured blogs a year before.

So I want to thank you, all of you, who have supported this blog, read a post, left a comment, talked to me on Twitter, or “liked” Elated Exhaustion on Facebook. Your support of this little online space means so very much to me, but your friendships mean even more.

And so now as I enter into my second year of blogging, I do so with a full heart and a wish that I could treat each of you to some Starbucks and chocolate where we could share hugs and conversation.

Confession: I am a huge fan of hugs.

To celebrate one year of blogging, I don’t have a big giveaway for you. I did not partner up with a sponsor or a brand.

But what I would love to do, is give one of my readers a $10 gift card to Starbucks. It is my small gift to you, to celebrate a year of this space, and to thank you for a year of support and friendship. Truth be told, I am probably going to send you some chocolate too.

If you would kind of like the Starbucks card, just leave a comment below.

If you really want the Starbucks card, you can Tweet about this giveaway or post about it on Facebook. Be sure to leave a comment below for each entry.

If I could reach through the computer and tell each of you thank you in person, I would. This, in some small way, will let us share a moment together and celebrate the space that allowed us to find each other in the first place.

I will leave the giveaway open until January 6th, because it’s the holidays and we are all busy and even I forgot what day the actual blogiversary was. Oops.

I will contact the winner and mail your gift out Monday, January 7th.

Thank you to all of you for making this little space what it is. Truly.

Updated January 7th, 2013: And the winner is… Jen Hall from Just Jennifer! Thank you to all of you who entered and who have supported this blog over the past year. You all mean so much to me.

Winner chosen using random.org:

Here are your random numbers:

13

Timestamp: 2013-01-07 15:14:29 UTC

 

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.