Gold Rush Dancin' Mama

Thursday, February 26, 2015

VCU Gold Rush Alumnae '99-2013
This past weekend I put on my snazzy black jazz pants and dance shoes and stepped back on the Siegel Center court with the alumni of the VCU Gold Rush Dancers. It's a fairly new tradition where dancers from previous years are invited back to dance with the current team during a halftime performance. Basically, it's a chance for the old chicks to get down one more time. Re-live the glory days. Know what I'm sayin'?

Let me say this: I never thought I'd:  1.) dance on that court ever again 2.) dance, period. Last weekend was such a great experience for many reasons. I was able to see friends I hadn't seen since I graduated in 2008, I met some new ladies from years before, and I got to dance again, which was basically my life for the four years I went to VCU. The practices, the games, the appearances--everything revolved around the dance team and I practically lived at the Siegel Center. Reliving that for 48 hours was awesome. Even the sore muscles and bruises.

Circa 2008
But more importantly, Lucca got to see me dance. Ok, he probably had no clue what was going on, (in fact, he was more concerned about getting his own "ba-ba-ball") but the fact that he was there in the stands made me so happy. I was so nervous before going back on the court--completely blanking on parts of a dance that I just learned, but seconds before taking our places, I thought, "Alright, this is familiar. I can do this." And I danced my freakin' heart out for him.

When we left the court at the end of our routine I started to cry (I swear the pregnancy/new mom hormones are still lingering). I don't know why, I don't have any explanation for it other than I was just overwhelmingly happy. Yes, I freakin' cried like a little baby. It was a moment where I saw that my life has come full circle: Meeting my husband at VCU, moving away together and getting married, having a baby... and now, we're back where it all started. It was an intense flood of emotions for just coming off of a basketball court shakin' my booty and flipping my hair to Bruno Mars, but it was special. It was one of those moments I'll never forget.

I want to keep doing things like that. I want Lucca to look at me and think, "My mom is a badass". I want to show him that you can conquer your fears, squash your anxieties, and always keep doing what you love and what makes you happy. Yes, I'm a mother 100% of the time, but I'm always searching for ways to be me--who I was before I become a mama. Dancing again with my team and my girlfriends who have been such a big part of my life brought me back, and it was a great feeling.

Thank you ladies for an amazing weekend. Thank you for sharing that moment with me. I'll never forget it. I can't wait to shake it again next year...



Valentines for The Valentines

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

This year Greg and I celebrated our 10th Valentine's Day together. When I think of all the Valentine's Days we've had leading up to this point, it makes me smile. These days, I don't care about the flowers (I only end up with yet another vase to put under the sink, and the cats eat the leaves) I don't want candy (still recovering from my Thanksgiving/Christmas binge so that'd be cruel) and all the other hype that surrounds VDay. I even like to keep a low profile during this holiday. "What? No way! You're last name is Valentine!?" It gets old. Sweet, but old.

Now, I'd just like some kid-free time with my husband. A lunch or dinner where we aren't sharing our food or picking up thrown utensils. Time out (like actually out of our house) together when we're not awaiting an explosive meltdown of some sort. Valentine's Day now is really just a good reason for us to take a break and just be us.
I'll admit that years ago, this wasn't all entirely true. I loved the flowers. The go-out-of-your-way romantic gestures. Planned dates to fancy places that we couldn't afford because we were young and in school. Yes, I loved all that. And yes, the thought (always) crossed my mind:  "I'll be Mrs. Valentine one day..."  And since I'm one of those crazy people that holds on to notes and cards and photos like some kind of time capsule- I go back to those, evidence of a life pre-marriage and pre-baby, and just laugh at who I was before. Who we were before.

This past weekend we still celebrated Valentine's Day, but without any fuss. We had our own Valentine's Day dinner on Thursday night, started a new tradition of making homemade pizza, drinking red wine and making dessert. (Who am I kidding, we make pizza every other week and drink wine almost every other night). Then while visiting my MIL, Greg made heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast Saturday morning and then (taking full advantage of the babysitting) we had a day date at a local winery for lunch. The rest of the weekend was spent with people I love, relaxing, reading, eating, drinking wine...  I mean, it can't get much better than that.

Keeping it simple, that's what it's about now. If I could go back 10 years I'd tell my unmarried, kid-less self that it's not the end of the world to miss a celebration on Valentine's Day (like the time I was so upset I had to dance at a basketball game instead of eating dinner with my boyfriend. Good Lord). Yep, hate to break it to ya sister, but it'll be just like any other day except you'll use it as a good excuse to go out together and mingle with the rest of society. 

Grandparent Love

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies." -Rudy Giuliani

When I would dream of becoming a mother, I would simultaneously dream about my parents becoming grandparents. I only have one grandmother that I've ever known, and because she lived in another state we've never been close. I did have a great childhood; there was always an adventure, a road trip to somewhere, thought-out gift baskets to wake up to on Valentine's Day or Easter, playing outside until it was dark, the best DIY birthday parties (I recall the BEST birthday I ever had was my "backwards party" when I turned six years old. My mom and I spent hours writing out invitations backwards, we played backward games, dressed in clothes inside out... man, I may have to recreate this). 

We'd have dance parties in the living room, blasting Paula Abdul or Vanilla Ice while my parents videotaped our crazy dance moves. I was the baby of the family, so naturally, everything seemed exciting to me. My parents were great: My mom always coming up with the most creative things to do or make, and my dad always making silly faces and encouraging me to be goofy. So, when I would think about having a babe of my own, I knew that my parents would re-live these moments and I'd get to see those parents all over again.

16 months later, It's been a beautiful, amazing thing. Lucca is so excited to see his "Mags" and loves to tell her stories and cuddle up close with her. My dad loves to chase Lucca around the house, show him different types of tools, and throw him up in the air and onto the couch. He gives him chocolate pops as an "appetizer" before dinner and makes the same silly faces he made at me some 20+ years ago. These are only things grandparents can offer. And it seriously makes me so sappy and sentimental and like I'm in a timewarp. I freaking love it. 
I love that my parents and I can share this experience together. Sure, things weren't always what they seemed to be through my baby-of-the-family rose-colored glasses, but I was little and what I remember is that they made life great for me. And experiencing raising a child with them in my life now is the most wonderful thing I can think of. I love hearing stories that start off with "when you were little..." or when they can fully relate to my new-parent exhaustion when they say "Oh I remember that stage". I love that Lucca looks to his grandparents and remembers certain things about them. When he gets older I look forward to the days that he wants to go to his grandparents' houses, or call them on the phone "just because". 
It's been a great journey so far, and it's only the beginning...

That Damn Wall

Sunday, February 8, 2015

It's a chilly Sunday morning, and I'm sitting in a corner of Starbucks with my Tall Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte, half of my pajamas and unbrushed hair. I usually write at home--this "bring your laptop to Starbucks" is not my thing. Most of the time I try to get something down before I go to bed. But this week has been another tough one and each night I found myself half asleep on the couch trying to watch DVR'd TV and then carrying my tired ass to bed by 9 p.m.
The week didn't start out on a good foot: Lucca was sick Sunday night and started a downward spiral as the evening went on. We're incredibly lucky that in 16 months, he's barely fallen ill, but we knew that he wasn't feeling himself when all he wanted to do was crawl in our laps and snuggle. This kid does NOT snuggle. We've tried, begged and pleaded to just snuggle and lay on the couch with him, but he's always at top speed running around the house, kicking a soccer ball, tearing open cabinets. The rest of that night was spent laying close to him, checking his temperature and giving him some meds. Monday morning came all too quickly and as he still wasn't himself, I wasn't able to work.
After a trip to the doc and a prescription for antibiotics, he finally turned a corner. I was still drowning in work, still exhausted and not caught up, so the week dragged on. I'd say probably about once a month I get in the "F&#* it! I quit" phase, and last week was definitely it. The working-from-home deal has been such a challenge for me; trying to manage work, a household, a baby, myself? It's been tough. 
I've been waking up at 5 a.m. everyday just to try and get some work done before anyone wakes up-- but even then, I still find myself getting in my work hours well into 5 p.m. on the same day. By Friday of this week, Lucca was clinging to me like a leech, by 4:30 I texted Greg something along the lines of "I'm going to lose my shit up in here" and I had already mentally checked out. He came home with 2 bottles of wine and washed the dishes. He knows.
Here's the thing. I know nobody is forcing me in the situation I'm in. I have options. Work. Don't work. Go back to teaching. Put him in daycare. Not one option is really the best option. It's really just pick one and deal with it. But every once in awhile, I hit a wall. A really big freakin' wall that I'm just too tired to climb. I need to decompress in every possible way. I need to check out of mommy-wife mode for awhile. I need to call my best friend and vent. And I have to believe that this is what most people go through; that there's no way that people love every single second of motherhood. And if you do, are you human? Or is there just something I'm missing?
I've had a good weekend of decompressing. I drove our other car with no car seat all day yesterday (that was therapeutic in itself), I had a nice kid-free day to do what I wanted (and Lucca had a blast with his Daddy and Auntie.. so it was a win-win). And this morning, I feel good. I feel like I'm ready to face whatever this week brings. The stress, the struggles, the frustrations. I'm ready to climb the wall; the same wall that stopped me in my tracks last week. 
(Just check on me on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and see if I'm cursing again..)