But I have felt better about my new role in life as a mother to Natalie in the past three weeks that I've been at school than I ever did when I was home with her for two months.
It helps that I love my job as a teacher and coach, I (most of the time) love the kids that I work with and I really enjoy the company of my co-workers.
I also think that a little time apart is good for both Natalie and myself - she gets to be around the big boys at her baby-sitters and she also is getting accustomed to someone other than Momma or Daddy taking care of her, while I am able to be more patient and loving with her in the afternoons and evenings because I'm not exhausted from being attached at the hip to her all day. It's a win-win situation.
But I think the thing that has made me feel the happiest and the most complete is being back in the weight room.
Yes. You read that correctly. I am one of those weird people that actually enjoys working out and instead of dreading a trip to the gym, I eagerly anticipate the high that I get from jumping rope, lifting weights and working on our new row machine. It's a challenge for me - how else can I push myself, can I lift more weights today, can I jump for longer...I love the slight achiness my body has after a work-out because it means that I worked hard. I'm more awake, alert, positive and content after I've been in the gym and I am now realizing that a lack of physical exertion might have been what led to my occasional (but seriously scary) bouts with postpartum depression during my maternity leave.
I'm in the midst of reading a book called "Mother's Need Time-Outs Too" and it's all about taking time for yourself to reload and recharge...and more importantly...how that isn't being selfish, but instead it makes you into a better mother and wife for your family. Maybe it's my perfectionist tendencies, but I often find myself in the "Just let me do it" and "I can do it all" mentality. I can get wrapped up so easily in the death spiral of OCD - the towels have to be folded and put away in an exact way and even if someone else lovingly does it for me...I have the compulsion to refold them. It's such a double edged sword - because of these tendencies, my house is clean, the clothes are put away, everything is organized and in it's proper spot...but I'm completely exhausted physically and mentally by the end of the day. So what do I do? How do I find that gentle balance of keeping a house orderly, neat and up to my standards, but at the same time relinquish control of certain things so that I can take a break from being Super Laura? My first step is getting back into the gym because that is something healthy that I can control. I've already made a plan with Craig - at least three times a week, after I get up with Natalie around 7:00 (because I have a feeling that she won't know that it's summer vacation and therefore a time for her to sleep in) and after I feed her and get her ready for the day, I'm handing her off to Daddy for morning play time and nap so that I can head down to the gym and get my anxieties worked out on the treadmill and on the weight machines.
I'll be real honest...it's really not even about the "post pregnancy weight loss" for me because there just isn't that much weight to lose. I went into pregnancy in great shape with the idea that the healthier I am in the beginning, the healthier I will be at the end. So far it has paid off and I was able to lose any "baby weight" that I put on during the pregnancy. I guess that's my reward for throwing up for four months straight at the beginning and then having severe heartburn the rest of the time. Now it's all about toning and strengthening. Although I don't look like I had a baby three months ago when I am wearing clothes...things are jiggly and my body just isn't as strong as it used to be.
And plus...I've got to be in great shape to show Natalie how to approach and jump to hit a volleyball someday. Speaking of which, this is the onesie that I ordered yesterday and that she will be sporting this upcoming school year at all my volleyball games.