Habits

March, April, May, June, July. Five months of quarantine for us and 3 months or so of having a pretty static routine (different houses, but the same two houses and more or less the same daily schedule). Long enough, as I read in a newsletter, to set a whole new era of habits even if you weren’t intended to. Long enough for stuff to sort of slip up on you.

Time for a habit review.

Daily habits have included: meditation and exercise (sometimes just MS, sometimes the elliptical if I’m at the ILs). Those have been pretty solid. I feel like I use the internet waaaaay too much – on zoom meetings often for a few hours + internet browsing + phone general waste of time. I’d love to cut that down. I definitely have this ennui after bedtime. Like, what is there to do? Often, I choose lazier activities rather than more rewarding ones, like vegging out rather than calling a friend. My social life has definitely dwindled down to just texts. I do spend a lot of non-directive time with the baby which I like a lot, and read a lot. It would be nice to have some more variation in my day…I’m not even sure what that would look like but more walks, more mini-trips, stuff like that.

Overall, seems like I’ve stayed pretty even but could swap some less enjoyable leisure time for more nourishing stuff like calling friends, making a new meals, taking a mini-excursion, etc. Voila, life is solved!

Making Plans to Go Back

Our daycare reached out and we are making plans to go back. I have so many feelings about this.

I have absolutely missed having a chunk of time away from the baby everyday…AND I have grown use to spending all day with the baby and will miss having that.

I look forward to going back to our apartment…AND I worry about life without backyards to play in like we have now.

I look forward to not having to live with my parents/in-laws…AND I want to cry when I think we may not see them again for quite a while.

Life has definitely been altered because of CV. My parents are high-risk and risk-averse in general. Living in a geography with a winter climate, and without a car, and in a dense city, I’m not sure if we’ll find a way to safely visit them. At the same time…I really want to start trying for a new baby and don’t feel into the idea of being pregnant and not living in my own house on a permanent basis. So we will go back in August. I think the baby will be very happy with it, R will certainly be very happy with it, and I will likely adjust. But, I really worry for my parents and how they cope.

 

 

What to take with us?

I read an interesting piece on why we should use the CV pause to evaluate what to take with us into life when we are able to return to “normal.” It gave me food for thought. Of everything I used to do, I only miss a few things: going to the library, going to the playground with MG, and seeing friends. My brain has adjusted to a surprising level of nothingness. Things like going out to eat, going to museums, anything NYC-specific, all seem like things I can do without. Going to the office I can definitely do without. I’ve always been really good at living in my own micro-neighborhood. Since having the baby, we have done all of our errands and excursions within a 15-minute walk of our apartment except for trips to my parents (when we tended to stay within 15 minutes of their house). So what would I take with me from this time?

  • shorter work days
  • more emphasis on simple pleasures (a post coming up about this)
  • leisurely pace for everything, because there is nowhere to be
  • social events being an occasional delightful event rather than obligatory
  • less time in front of technology (I try to leave my phone somewhere after the work day, and take the rest of the day as a tech break)
  • spending a lot of time with family

Rebuying

I have a resistant to buying online in the best of times and that resistance is especially strong now. It’s been interesting to me that without any of my favorites, I’ve just created a new staple wardrobe out of all my backup options that were in the apartment. I have one pair of pajama pants and one pajama sweatshirt. A daytime fleece, light sweater, and vest. Three pair of day pants: two black leggings (one slightly thicker and with pockets), one pair of jeggings. A pair of waterproof boots, a pair of birks, a pair of toms. And that’s…pretty much it. Some tank tops I rotate through under my clothes. If it’s nighttime and I’m washing my PJs, I wear my backup backup outfit of linen pants, a t-shirt and a cashmere cardigan which my sister calls my chicest office.

There is some stuff on my need to buy list. A new pair of minimalist sneakers, a raincoat, another pair of sweats would be nice for laundry day.  Buying back my tried and trues, like my favorite face soap. But overall, I have a sense that I’d just like to…mostly not.

COVID quarantine

I’m not under quarantine, but it’s looking increasingly likely that I will be WFH every day in the near future along with R. So I’ve been thinking a lot about what a functional schedule will look like, both under that scenario and if day cares are closed.

In a world where daycare is open:

– Morning routine: this would stay pretty much the same. Wake up, work out, play with baby, drop her off.

– Once coming back, would log-in to work and work. Probably do some house chores on my break, or mini-workouts, meditation, and other screen-free breaks. Maybe a walk sometimes.

– Pick up baby, have regular evening routine. I think also turning off phones/laptops/etc and then not logging back in would be essential to maintaining some normalcy.

If daycare is closed, I would think R and I would work in shifts. First, we’d probably have to move the desk from the living room to the baby’s room. Then, we would have to fold up the futon every day and cover it with a bedspread and it would become the zone to take calls (if multiple people were working at once).

One of us would work from 6:30 or so (when the baby wakes up and vacates her room) until 12:30 or so when the baby goes down for a nap. From 12:30-2:30 we’d both work or socialize or do whatever. Post-nap, we’d switch the on-call parent. We’d probably still want to have a family dinner and bedtime routine so at 5:00/5:30 both parents would stop working and we’d have dinner, etc. If needed, a parent could work again after 7pm (bedtime) but ideally not to maintain a separation of work. The morning working parent would have a longer stretch, so we might alternate who is in that role everyday. And I think, to the extent needed, we would have to be really flexible around work calls.

If S comes to stay with us, you could do three shifts but I’m not sure how that would work. From 6 until 5, you have 11 hours of baby time that one person can cover. So each person could spend 4 hours with the baby and 7 hours or so working. The shifts would be 6-10, 10-2, 2-5 for baby. One person would work 6-2, one would work 10-5, and one would work 6-10 and 2-5.

Now I imagine living in a country with effective federal guidance and proactive testing efforts…

 

 

March

It’s March! And super Tuesday. I am still rooting for my #1 (Liz!) and have a dream where there is a contested convention and she gets the nomination, and then Stacey Abrams is the VP. A girl can wish.

Life is holding pretty steady. There is a big coronavirus scare happening (the first NYC school closed) and we have done nothing to prepare. I’m not that concerned about it, mostly because it doesn’t affect babies much.

Here are things I’ve been thinking about:

  • daily habits and routines (this is like a constant focus area for my mind, I’m not sure why)
  • how nice our group of friends is, and how grateful I am to have so many close friends in walking distance of our apt and a sister who takes the train over every weekend to hang out with us
  • having another baby…
  • this summer and how to organize the weekend so we can go to the beach
  • working 80% time for 100% pay for meeting 100% of job expectations (I read a very, very interesting quote about this and have been thinking a lot about it)
  • the racism that was well alive and kicking during the civil rights movement and how it was often in direct coordination with the police and state, so you could murder someone, brag about it, and even today it may be un-prosecuted
  • how to not touch my face. I have been working on this (see coronavirus scare) and it is SO HARD. It takes a lot of self-control.
  • how to better organize our crazy bed situation (one futon being used a bed, one full-size mattress and box spring on the floor being used as a bed), one full-size mattress on a bed frame not being used, and a crib. And how to “solve” this problem in a way that is sustainability for the various iterations of beds and bedrooms we’ll need in the next decade or so.

I haven’t been in the habit of doing monthly check-ins or making formal goals. I have been building a great MommaStrong daily habit which makes me feel awesome.  Other than that, I’m not really in the mood to commit to anything.

Happy Birthday MG!

And just like that, she’s one! It’s hard to imagine, she came out (finally) and was just a hardly alive, reddish, plump of a baby. She’d cry hysterically every time we changed her diaper (what, like 12 times a day), every time we changed her clothes, in the ten seconds between wanting milk and becoming starving. Then she became more awake, and opened her eyes more and more. She’d stare at you and she’d stare at the ceiling fan. She’d make little baby coos and always had the hiccups. She woke up, more and more, until she’d follow you with her eyes around the room while she layed on the mat. She learned to roll over, and would cry helpless on her tummy, until you flipped her back. (She did not learn to roll back until months later). She started eating purees and loved them. She’d smack her lips around the tiny spoon, delighted by flavor. She sat in her baby bouncer on top of the dining table while we ate breakfast. While napping, she’d stick her limbs right out of the crib slats. When it was too hot, her body would get heat rash and we’d have to stay inside, where there was air conditioning. I went back to work and Steve became the stay-at-home parent. He helped her learn how to sleep on her own and took her to the swings and Noguchi museum almost every day. She started sitting up, first with help, and later on her own, climbing up from tummy, to hands and knees, to falling back into a seat. When she was awake from her nap, we’d find her in the crib sitting up and playing with her baby panda. Sitting up, she loved to be brought toys and play with them. Stacking rings, colorful shakers, books, and blocks. She’d windshield wiper her legs like a powerful tugboat generating endless splash in the bath which delighted her. From sitting, she went to rocking on her hands and knees, for over a month, before she learned to crawl. Steve went back to work and she went to daycare where she met the wonderful Waafa and Hoda. She got to paint, play with mud (pudding), feed Mr. Doggy, and play the drum. When she left, they’d sing, “bye bye MG / bye bye MG / bye bye MG / we’ll see you again next time.” Then crawling, off she’d go, panting like a dog. She learned where her toy bookshelf was and would crawl over there to plead for you to read her a book. I’d read Sandra Boyton books and Steve would read Brown Bear, Brown Bear and act out all of the animal noises. She started eating finger foods and we had family mealtimes where she sat at a real high-chair at the table. She loved kiwi, bambas, red lentil soup, all Indian food, and yogurt. She started crawling fast and pulling up to stand and would throw all of her toys off the bookshelf. She learned to bring you the books she wanted you to read her. She learned the layout of the apartment and would crawl around looking for you. She made babbles – starting with mamama and dadada and moving to harsh sounds like bap! and dadun. Sometimes she’d zone out and when she came back she’d hiss at you like a witch: haaaaa. She started to recognize people – her Shani Masi who came for a visit on most Sunday nights. Her Nani and Nanoo who watched her for a full weekend when she was 11-months old and who loved it as much as she did. She loved skyping with her Nana and Nono and Divy Masi. She started standing with more confidence and – one day – took one shaky step. One or two shaky steps. One or two or three shaky steps. She loved to take things out of containers and put them back in – her barrets, her dominos, Steve’s protein shake ingredients. She loved to cuddle the big panda and her baby panda. She is our baby girl – a whole year old! Happy Birthday MG!

Completing the Stress Cycle

A few months ago, I tried reading Burnout by Emily Nagoski. I found it almost unreadable, mostly due to its narrative style. But the author, and her identical twin sister (!) recently released a podcast focused on feminist survival in 2020. It is SO GOOD. Really, so so good.

The first episodes were about completing the stress cycle. Basically, stress will happen regardless. But what’s important is “completing” the stress cycle so your body can relax. I retain basically no information but somehow I remembered so many ways to do this. They include:

  • physical activity
  • laugher
  • social connection (superficial or intimate)
  • crying
  • imagination
  • deep breathing
  • self-compassion
  • sleeping
  • creativity
  • physical connection

I just really liked this framework. Say you had a terrible client meeting and are stressed. When you come home, there are concrete things you can do to feel better! It also explains why I like foot rubs and long hugs so much.

A Weekend Away

And after 11 months, God said rest. Friday, we sent the baby to daycare and played hooky at the Korean spa. I got a scrub and R ate (two) chocolate chip cookies. We napped, and rolled around, and went into hot tubs, and had coffee. It was very, very nice.

Saturday, we took the train to CT with my sister. We had a four-seater with two seats facing two-seats and MG had a blast rolling all around and looking out the window. Then, we got to CT and…left the baby there with my parents! We took the train further to a college town and spent the weekend walking around, browsing in bookstores, and drinking a lot of coffee while my parents watched the baby. For two nights! And everyone had a great time. The baby enjoyed, my parents really enjoyed, and R and I definitely enjoyed.

The baby was a little angry when we came out. I picked her up and she started babbling in noises I hadn’t really heard before with an angry tone. And she pushed my Mom away when she came near. But after 20 minutes or so she was fine, and she was totally normal with our usual routine when we brought her home.

It’s such a relief to have a kid old enough that she’s a bit adaptable. And, life without the baby was so…easy. But not like, oh great, this is easy. Like, my life should have a little more challenge to be meaningful. I thought that was interesting — baby-level life is now regular, and pre-baby life is now too easy and sort of boring. Maybe this means it is indeed time to think about having another baby. I could definitely imagine myself looking back and saying one baby is too easy and sort of boring.

Pantry Staples

You know what I’ve been really into recently? Cooking with pantry ingredients! For some reason, we always have an out of control pantry, but we tend to eat the same 6 or so things on rotation. So I’ve started to make an effort to cook down our pantry. This has involved: quinoa for breakfast instead of steel cut oats, adding a ton of nuts to morning bowls (and figuring out which ones are rancid, and throwing them away), and farro instead of rice. We have a LOT of Rancho Gordo beans left over from when I was an avid bean club member, and a lot of various grains that we don’t really use.

Here are pantry staples that would get used:

  • one or two types of whole grains (oats, quinoa, farro, etc.)
  • coconut milk
  • one type of nut (just one!)
  • tomato sauce
  • canned tomato puree
  • some canned beans (chickepeas or black beans)
  • almond flour
  • shredded coconut
  • dried fruit that could go into morning bowls
  • sardines
  • protein pasta
  • mac and cheese boxes
  • peanut butter
  • some dried beans and lentils (red lentils, green lentils)
  • soy sauce
  • vinegars
  • oils

Ta-da! That’s it. That is a very doable pantry for us that can get used up without taking endless space.