Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Identity Crisis

We spend our lives reinventing ourselves. As a baby, you first learn your name. When you're a child you identify yourself as "Daughter", "Sister", "Student" and "Friend". As a young adult your beliefs and your occupations lead the way in helping you develop a sense of self - "Christian", "Graphic Designer", "Republican", "Volunteer". Getting married gives you the biggest identity change yet - "Wife". It's such a radical shift that most women change their name, the name you were born with that first defined you. With this new phase, come expectations from yourself and your spouse as to how you will develop into this role. It was a very difficult time for me. I struggled with how to incorporate the elements from my parents' marriage that I wanted to emulate with the contrast of my reality as well as what I imagined my husband expected from me. I finally got a good grasp of that piece of my life when the next identity change happened - becoming a mother. And talk about a transformation!

I LOVE being a mom. It's the most incredible blessing - full of joy, fear, wonder, frustration. It's made me a better wife, a better worker (ok, except when I've been sleep deprived), a better person in general. It has truly changed my identity. My lifestyle changed quite a bit when I got married, but it is much different now. I used to go to happy hour, work late, sleep in on the weekends, take spontaneous trips out of town. When we had our first daughter, I initially felt a little nostalgic when friends would make last minute plans to go to dinner and I would have to decline, but as time went on, it bothered me less. It's not like I wasn't still doing fun things without my family (heaven knows I need to have some time away to regroup and replenish), I just had to plan for them, and I didn't do them as often. And that was perfectly fine. I would reminisce with friends about our crazy single days and I thought of them with fond memories, but that was all.

Then last week, a friend who had been in Mexico two years with the Peace Corps returned home. Plans were made for a night out on the town to welcome him home. The plan was to go on newly available hop-on-hop-off trolley pub crawl around the city. My wonderful husband agreed to stay home with the girls so I could have a night of fun. I was excited to go, but also aware that I wouldn't really be able to fully enjoy the benefits of this activity since the negatives of doing so far outweighed the positives. If I chose to stay out as late as the trolley ran, I would still have to get up at 6:30am since sleeping in is no longer possible. And while being hungover was never fun, doing so with small children would be torture. Also, I wanted to be home to put the babies to bed so I wouldn't be able to meet up with everyone at the beginning. These alterations are typical for outings with my single friends, and I never think twice about it.

But Friday night, I was talking with some of the people who were going out on Saturday night, and the strangest thing happened. This group of friends has evolved over the years as people have moved or married or stopped hanging out for some reason and others have been absorbed into the fold. We were going over the details for Saturday, and I said, "Mama Jenn needs a night off. Party Jenn will be there!" One of the girls said, "Wow, I don't think I've met Party Jenn!" I laughed and realized that was probably true. She'd only been a part of the group for a short time....probably around 2004-ish...wait a minute... that's SIX YEARS. Has Party Jenn really been gone for six whole years?!?!? I was surprised how much this affected me. I was really upset. I started thinking of my single years with more than just a fond remembrance but as a deep loss, as if those were my glory days and the best years of my life had passed. I was determined to show her how fun I could be, consequences be damned.

Saturday night, I went out and truly intended to be home at a reasonable time after a reasonable amount of drinking, but one thing lead to another, and suddenly I realized I'd had too much to drink and would have to stay out longer to sober up so I could drive home. I had a great time seeing friends I hadn't seen in a long time, catching up, and sharing crazy stories with the newer members of the group. I got home at 3:30am - yikes! Three hours later when my girls woke up, I was so excited to see them that I was not nearly as tired as I should have been. And I realized that those single days were fun, but snuggling with my babies early in the morning was just as much fun, and I didn't miss going out nearly as much as I miss them when I'm away. Though Party Jenn still exists and will always be part of me, Mama Jenn is in the forefront now, and I'm so thankful to be at this point in my life.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Last weekend Baby R waved. She does this adorable thing where she looks like she's revving a motorcycle throttle. S keeps talking about when her sitter, Judy, took her to Old McDonald's. :) We checked on our garden and some of the green beans have started to grow. Hope to be able to pick some in a couple of weeks. So excited to make some baby food from them for R. I got the downstairs cleaned. Had hoped to get upstairs done, but it didn't happen. Maybe next weekend. We went to the Royals game that night - DH's vendor gave him 4 tickets, so he invited a friend and so did I. It was hot, but we had fun. I got about 4 hours of sleep Saturday night - again. Luckily, I was able to take a two hour nap Sunday - woo hoo! I wanted to go to church, but I was so tired, I just couldn't get going. I think the heat being outside at the game really drained me more than the lack of sleep.

Didn't do a lot Sunday. DH dug out a stump and then took S to the Legends to get some stuff at the Nike store with some gift cards he'd gotten from him Coke points while Baby R and I napped. When he got home, his back was really starting to bother him. By dinner time, he literally collapsed on the kitchen floor. So Sunday night was lots of fun. I gave the girls baths and put them to bed, then helped DH get to bed with a heating pad. So by the time I finished cleaning up the kitchen, doing dishes and a load of laundry and getting ready for bed and reading a bit, it was after 11pm. Then around midnight S woke up because she needed to go potty - yea! Then Baby R woke up around 1am (teething), finally got her back to sleep. Then S woke up around 4am because she wet the bed. :( Kinda thought we'd have a dry night since she'd already gotten up. So by the time I got her cleaned up and the sheets changed, it was 5am, but she wanted to sleep with us, and I didn't have the energy to argue. I literally laid down and Baby R cried. (She usually gets up at 5am to eat.) Sigh. Got her back to sleep at 6am. DH had agreed that he needed to go to the dr. about his back and that I should drive him, so I had left a message with work that I'd be in late. We didn't hear back from the dr's office until 10am and by then DH was able to walk around ok on his own so he decided he could drive himself. Ironically Dad had hurt his back a couple of weeks ago and finally went in to the dr's yesterday too. He's like a new man today. Thank goodness - I was really getting worried about him.

DH and I are still having a tight time with money - mostly it's because I haven't been planning meals and buying groceries much since I've been working so much overtime. I know we could probably save $100/week just by me doing that. But he thinks the engine's going out on his car, and he wants to get S a swing set for her bday (not just any set mind you, a $1200 one. RIDICULOUS), and we are going to CO in August, so he's worried about our finances so he wants to get a part time job. I told him if he really wants to and can find something where it's only 2 nights a week and a 4-6 hour shift on the weekend, fine, but only for 6 months or so til we're past all this. The problem is we're never going to be past everything. There's always something. We just need to live on a budget which we haven't had to do. Sigh....

S was so funny last night. I was putting Baby R down after bathtime, and I could hear S running up and down the hallway. When I came out, she had R's baby towel on her head so it was flying behind her as she ran. I asked her what she was doing and she said she was a superhero. So cute! Must have talked about that at the sitter's today with the older kid who was there. I got her into bed and while we were snuggling she made a fist and pulled up her pointer and pinky fingers and whispered, "Rock on". Apparently DH has been trying to teach her how to do that. So cute!!!
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