Califargo: Sense of Self

One of my dear friends inspired these thoughts when she randomly asked me the other day, “Do you ever miss you Minneapolis or California self? I’ve lost my sense of self lately.”

I’ve grown close to this friend in the past couple of years as we work together in hospice care but also have a lot in common with being moms to three young kids. I find myself being able to be refreshingly honest with her, and I hope she finds the same with me.

Her comment made me reflect on how life was so different just ten years ago. Do I miss those days? Yes, there are certain parts of my young adult days that I miss. I miss the freedom of being able to pick up go….to be able to plan a trip in a few days and not have to worry about arranging child care or pet care. I miss being able to spend more money on new shoes or buy yet another cute outfit with that hard earned money. I  miss being able to have more than one drink with friends without dreading the recovery the entire next day (plus who really wants to be hung over while tending to and chasing two little kids and toting around an infant). I miss concerts in the bigger city venues. I miss the ocean (Half Moon Bay near San Francisco is magical). I miss fresh seafood. I miss late night cramming sessions with nursing friends sharing not only facts for the exam the next day but also a lot of laughter. I miss movies at the theater. I  miss being able to watch my niece and nephews as much as my sister requested.

You know what though? Although those pieces of my life are more so part of my past now, I know they hold a special place in my heart…those experiences that helped shape me into who I am now and allow me to appreciate them even more. Yes, I have many more responsibilities these days, but what I find relieving is that I’m not alone. My village of hard working mamas also share these sentiments and sometimes reminisce about these days as well. I can also trust this same village of women will be there for one another and help each other when we just need a break from our responsibilities to remember, even for a few hours, what our old selves used to look like….from getting all dolled up for a date night with the spouse (and being able to eat a warm dinner with both hands) ….or breaking away for a weekend get-away. And just maybe this is not “our older selves” that have disappeared completely, rather still there but with additional factors that enrich us even more.

I know that in ten years from now,  I will miss other parts of my younger self as well, such as the scent of a newborn baby….frequent snuggles with babes and toddlers….teaching my first born how to read….witnessing my youngest learn how to walk…and so much more.

Because really, it all contributes to who we are…So when when my good friend and I are missing our younger, more free and careless selves, we should take a moment to remind each other that we will one day miss this part of ourselves too….this sleep deprived bliss.

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Thoughts On Three

I have been pondering about my thoughts on three for about four months now. On November 7th, 2017, I gave birth to our final baby, Thomas Jordan Miosek, or “Tommy.” Perhaps it’s the chaos around here that’s prevented me from finishing the draft I started when he was just one week old…or the broken sleep…or having to really choose wisely when I get precious free time…or a combination of it all…but regardless, today I attempt again. Much like my piles of clean laundry on the couch waiting to be folded and put away, most of the tasks on my “to do list” take many attempts these days.

I would be lying if I said it’s easy with three kids. In all honesty, I was on the brink of a mini breakdown a couple months ago. It was a Saturday afternoon in the dead of winter. The two older kids were obviously feeling cooped up with pent up energy, cabin fever at its finest. The baby needed a nap. The husband was running an errand. Gulp. As I leave my mischievous three-year-old unsupervised for about ten minutes to nurse the baby and put him down for a nap, I cross my fingers that all hell won’t break loose while he runs free. I call him my Dennis the Menace after all. I had set out all the ingredients to bake chocolate chip cookies once the baby fell asleep. As he fell asleep, I realized the house was much too quiet for my liking, as that almost always means I will be welcomed with some kind of messy surprise. Sure enough, my Dennis poured all of the baking ingredients on the kitchen floor. I am greeted by him standing on mounds of flour mixed with a carton of cracked eggs, a bottle of vanilla extract, and a bag of chocolate chips. My angry response triggers a full meltdown complete with him throwing handfuls up in the air, leaving a trail down the hallway. If that wasn’t enough, he decides to go back to the mound and pee on it. Yes. He peed on the already goopy, sticky mess. And the baby starts to cry. Again. My six-year-old promised to alert me when her brother was getting into mischief, but she became absorbed with her tablet. As I hold the crying baby and scrub the floors while desperately waiting for the husband to come home, I can feel each muscle of my body tighten and my blood pressure rise twenty points. Once he arrives, he sees the sight and offers some unwelcome feedback. We argue about the situation and how it could have been prevented.

I will share this story years down the road and will likely do so with a smile on my face or giggle as I tell the details. But in the meantime, it serves as just a common occurrence of what life with three kids is like now. There are moments like those that make me weep with frustration and exhaustion. But then I get a moment or a gentle reminder that while this life is chaotic and messy (pee mixed with flour and eggs kind of messy)….I also get so much more to hold onto. From bedtime snuggles… to huge toothless grins… to the sound of genuine belly laughter, I get it all. Beautiful. Messy. Chaotic. Loud. Zoo-like. Blissful. Annoying. Frustrating. Joyful. Because really, if it takes an unexpected mess by the idle hands of a wild threenager to show me that life is beautiful in a messy unpredictable way, so be it.

Do I share all the mishaps and stressful moments? No. But I should share more. Because in a world of perfectly crafted social media posts depicting we all have our shit together, let us be more real. Sticky mounds of pee infused flour and all.

The Wee Hours of Mommyhood

As I sit here awake in the wee morning hours sipping on coffee uninterrupted, I decide to take advantage of my sleeplessness. It’s been quite a while since I’ve put my thoughts into written words. Normally after a 4am feeding, I can crawl back into the warm cozy bed and I’m quick succumbed by much needed slumber. But this morning is different. Today the entire family sleeps peacefully as I sit with many thoughts swirling around in my head.  I rarely have this time by myself alone with my thoughts.

My feet are sore and cracked, and I desperately need a pedicure. I should really use that gift certificate my boss gave me for my birthday. Remnants of last night’s dinner dirty the counter tops, and the dishes pile up in the sink. My shoulders and neck feel tight and heavy. I should really use that massage gift card my mom gave me for my birthday. I’m going to be very tired by 1pm today. Violet’s book order is due today. Tommy needs more clothes at daycare. Charlie forgot his favorite cars at daycare, so I need to be sure to get them later today. Will everyone be healthy at work today? I really need to watch my eating again and start losing this baby weight. Will I have enough milk for Tommy? I need to pick up the groceries for Tommy’s baptism lunch. Winter is getting so old…when will summer finally be here? I crave lake time!

Life is busy and hard. It’s messy and chaotic. It’s exhausting at times. But when I sit back this morning allowing the thoughts to just swirl around in my brain, then flowing onto the keyboard, I can’t help but be extremely grateful with many blessings. I’ve read mom blogs that I’ve liked, loved, and shared. I love being able to relate with others. But one of them recently spoke to me. A mom shared about her sacred early morning times by herself. Initially I thought, “Yeah right, that is WAY too early for my eyes to be open and my brain to be functioning.” But she’s on to something. There’s something so serene and peaceful being alone this morning with my laptop and coffee. I’m not going to lie; I hope the day goes smoothly so I’m not regretting my decision to stay awake! But really, this time is good for the soul.

I’m hoping you have a great day filled with caffeine and chocolate chip cookies (because those are just a few of my favorite things).

Catch the Moments

I decided to put my insomnia to good use today on this Thanksgiving morning. Was I frantically cooking turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes? No. Thankfully my mother-in-law is an excellent cook. I was catching up on my new favorite T.V show, This is Us. It turned out this was the Thanksgiving episode I had recorded a couple days ago. To say it moved me profoundly is an understatement. How a fictional show can portray such real life issues really astounds me. The characters and plot are nothing but perfectly beautiful; whether the scenes are heartwarming or heart wrenching, I’m hooked. Some shows make you laugh. Some shows may you cry. Some shows make you sit in numbness not asking you to feel or think anything at all. But this show is so much more. If you haven’t watched it, I invite you to my home to watch all the episodes recorded on my DVR! This particular episode inspired me to reflect on the beautiful chaos of life and my gratitude for it all.

Thankfulness. It’s what ties us together as humans and fills us with gratitude for all we’ve been blessed with. But it goes beyond that. It fills us with even deeper gratitude for all the sorrows, stress, chaos, and hardships we bared that have molded us into who we are and brought us to where we are today. Without it all, we wouldn’t have our complete story, filled with each chapter of our interesting and unique lives. Each of us has a different story unlike any other. Today I am thankful for it all—the good, the bad, and the ugly, for it’s the blend of it all that has me sitting here reflective and infinitely grateful.

Today I am thankful for my husband. He’s the most stubborn man I think I have ever met. He stands firm in what he believes in, and it takes a miracle to persuade that man or change his mind the slightest. He’s gruff yet soft. He has a kind and generous heart, and it fills his soul to give unexpectedly to those who are least expecting of gifts. He is hard working and reliable, rarely ever missing out on doing something he has promised to do. He likes organization, order, and plans, unlike his somewhat disorganized, forgetful, and spontaneous wife. He is a wonderful father, striving to start traditions with his children they will remember for all their days to come.

Today I am thankful for my daughter. She has inherited her dad’s eyes and lips along with his fierce strong willed nature and persistence. She doesn’t back down when she wants something bad enough, even if this will quickly cause gray hair for her mom and dad. She is fun, loud, vivacious, and the life of the party. She is friendly and warm, introducing herself to new people, asking them to be her friend. She is articulate at the young age of four and never ceases to entertain her parents with her witty one-liners and entertaining questions. She is the best snuggler, and 8:30 pm has become her mom’s absolute favorite part of the day, as that’s when she always wants a “tighter” snuggle.

Today I am thankful for my son. He is our very own toe-headed “Dennis the Menace” with his mischievous grin and ability to get into almost anything, regardless of the best of child-proofing efforts. He is wildly fast and loves all things “boy,” from cars to trucks to “choo choo” trains and airplanes. He loves his dad so much that it sometimes makes his mom jealous until she sits and watches them together, and her heart fills with such joy. He is loving and sensitive, giving slobbery kisses, bear hugs, and saying “wuv you” and “ary” (sorry) when he knows he’s in the wrong. He is our rainbow baby after our angel baby.

Today I am thankful for all my family and friends. The list would be a long and very full to name them all, but I hope each of them knows how much I care and love them, as I try to tell and show them every day.

Today I am thankful for my job and wonderful coworkers. The sense of teamwork is amazing sometimes, and they make me strive to be the best I can be.

Today I am thankful for my health and my family’s health. Life is so precious, and we never really know when our health could fail, so I try to appreciate our breathing lungs and beating hearts.

In This is Us, Olivia asks William, “How does it feel to be dying?” William thinks about it for a moment and poetically responds, “It feels like all these beautiful pieces of life are flying around me, and I’m trying to catch them…when my granddaughter falls asleep in my lap, I try to catch the feeling of her breathing…and when I make my son laugh, I try to catch the sound of him laughing, how it rolls up from his chest. But the pieces are moving faster now, and I can’t catch them all. I can feel them slipping through my fingertips. And soon where there used to be my granddaughter breathing and my son laughing, there will be nothing. I know it feels like you have all the time in the world, but you don’t. So stop playing it so cool. Catch the moments of your life while you’re young and quick because soon you will be old and slow, and there will be no more to catch. And when a nice boy who adores you offers you pie, say thank you.”

Today, my hope for you is that you take some time to catch the beautiful moments and eat that delicious pie.

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Mother of Two: Thoughts On Sleep Deprived Bliss

These thoughts have been swirling around in my sleep deprived brain for six weeks. I started putting them into words on the fourth day of my son’s life, but as many mothers of newborns can relate to, I’ve been consumed with this almost 13 pound human being and also with a wildly active toddler. Oh how our lives have changed so much once again. It’s not “my first rodeo,” this time, but I have come upon some reminders of the challenges posed to new (again) mommies. The very first reminders were of course the physical ones. The physical challenges alone zap a woman almost completely; I would venture to say that giving birth takes the same amount of energy as running a marathon without training, but I could be wrong. Regardless, I’ll just go with it so I feel very powerful and physically capable of anything! But let’s be real…it’s out-of-your-own-body painful (before the heavenly epidural)…the copious amount of blood afterwards, perhaps even for weeks (I apologize for this over-share)…the general soreness/cramping…sore boobs/nipples…just to name a few! But amazingly, women all around the world decide to do it again. Maybe the loss of these memories is nature’s way of promoting women to continue to procreate!

During my 31 hour labor with Violet, I vividly recall telling Jordan, “This will be our only child. I will never do this again….labor is a b****, and labor is for the birds…etc.” I had a surprisingly different experience with Charlie’s labor. It was much shorter (just under 6 hours), I felt more prepared mentally and physically, and I also very much respected the physician and appreciated the education he has provided throughout all my prenatal care. The only time I did not like him is when he made me wait for about 2 hours to get my epidural as the longest, most painful transition was from 3 cm to 4cm. That being said, although the Pitocin contractions were intense, they were shorter lived than with Vi’s labor, so thank God for that. Some women opt out of epidurals. First of all—WHY!?!? Secondly—are you gluttons for punishment!?!? Ok, I do respect your choice. And I also think you are super women with a much higher pain tolerance than me.

Since marrying Jordan, I’ve envisioned three children completing our family. If you would have asked me if this was still the plan about four weeks ago, I would have said, “no.” To be honest (and real again), the sleep deprivation hits me HARD. It affects my mood significantly, and I did experience some postpartum blues (debatable depression). In addition, challenges keeping up with Charlie’s need for milk made me guilty and inadequate (but these issues have since resolved). I have found that postpartum blues and depression are another topic women don’t often discuss openly. It’s more common than I had originally thought, so again, for the sake of relating and helping others feel less alone, I’ll talk about it. I’m incredibly thankful for helpful resources and village of family and friends to get me through that first month. The hormones quickly dive down like a steep roller coaster…the very same hormones that gradually increased and protected me and my mood during the pregnancy. Thankfully once they leveled off, I started feeling like myself again. Another helpful factor was learning Charlie’s “schedule” (if you can say babies that young have one), and I started taking advantage of his longer naps by napping with him at least once during the day. Then there’s coffee…that’s a necessity.

Despite the physical and emotional challenges that naturally follow a delivery, I am grateful to have a healthy chunky baby boy with a double chin and arm rolls. The baby scent, goat sounding cries, and first smiles are filling my days now. For the next month or so, I will savor those until I have to go back to a different “work” and adjust to working full-time with two children. But our rainbow is here shining brightly in our lives.

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Anticipating a Rainbow This Holiday Season

I have been thinking about this blog post for a while. Probably 9-10 months when I look back. I have been holding back for fear of the shoe dropping. I am two and a half weeks away from my second baby’s birth day, give or take. And I feel guilty for writing, “second,” as I vividly remember the second actually passed before getting the chance to be a “live” second. We await our rainbow. And there is still so much that could happen that I fear at times. I catch myself thinking of the “what ifs,” and have to distract myself in order to remain sane and carry on in this world….a world that is unpredictable, full of surprises, both good and bad.

I will always remember March 28th as the due date that came and was gone. And as December 19th approaches, I am filled with renewed hope while simultaneously reminded of that unpredictable world. But March 28th is also significant in the time this child was conceived. I do believe God works in mysterious ways.

As I near the end of this pregnancy, I feel full of blessings. So far, it’s been healthy and relatively uneventful. With my first pregnancy, I was of course very anxious in anticipation, wanting the day to come sooner than later. With this one, although I am still eager, I have a new appreciation and understanding of the importance of them staying settled and “cooking” as long as he/she needs. In the next few weeks I also plan to savor my last moments with Violet as my only child. That brings up even more mixed feelings for me, as I simply cannot fathom loving another little human as much as I love her. She has filled my life with such joy that how can any next act compare to that? But as many of my friends and family with more than one child say, our hearts have an infinite amount of love for each and every baby we are blessed with, and the heart actually seems to grow larger and larger. When I catch myself daydreaming of this soon arrival, I recall the very moment when Jordan was allowed the opportunity to be the first person to tell me that our child was a girl, as he placed her on my chest for first time. It was music to my ears and heart. I hope Jordan is given this same opportunity this next time, and I get to see him beam in pride. I also cannot wait to witness Violet as she becomes the older sibling—the one who will be his or her role model, mentor, confidant, but at times likely her enemy, nemesis, and antagonist…let’s be real.

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I do have do have much to be thankful for today and every day. My heart is filled with joy, love, and gratitude. Happy Holidays to all of you.

Resolve to Be Unresolved

It is the day. It is the one day which rolls around annually and inspires others to define a resolution. A resolution that will enable them to do something better…to be better. It is a fresh start. A reset button in our lives. Perhaps the goal is to work out X amount of days per week. Eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day. Drink 8 glasses of water. Cultivate gratitude. Smile more. Sleep 8 hours a night. Journal nightly. Save X amount of dollars per month. The list is endless. 

For the next few months, the health club memberships will be increasing exponentially. The gyms will be jam packed over lunch hours and during the after work rush. There will be more smiling faces and chipper attitudes, people pushing through disgruntled attitudes and hard days– “I will be happy, dang it. I will count my blessings.” 

But here’s the thing. After a few brief months of strict attention to these “new” objectives, they once again become tired and frustrated. Upon March, people might be extremely disappointed with themselves that they once again have an unresolved resolution hanging over their heads and weighing on their hearts. 

What if people resolved to be unresolved? Let’s just say we could accept that our lives have many reset buttons and fresh starts instead of that one single day that comes around every 365 days. What if we allowed ourselves to have numerous chances instead of one per year? Would it be OK to be more gentle with ourselves and realize that we are incredibly human and complex– that indulging in pizza and beer one night on March 2nd did not screw our last 8 weeks up but instead allowed us to be perfectly imperfect? 

What if we were OK with being less than perfect whatever day of the year it was? Do you think we would be happier in general? We are constantly evolving, so isn’t it fair to have countless fresh starts? 

Although I have many numerous resolutions myself in the past years, I have come to realize that it is extremely limiting and somewhat cliché. I risk sounding lazy, unambitious, or even “above” resolutions by saying this, but can’t self improvement be a constant process that does not just come around once a year? I am fully aware this is my idealistic self talking. Something much more profound tends to be evolving discoveries, consistent learning and growing that is more fluid– the moments in the next year that are not so much facts (numbers on a scale or dollar signs in the bank), but more “aha moments” that really shape who we are. Yes– one year, I weighed less than I do now. But I’ve gained much more than weight over the years. In that sense, wisdom, strength, and true personal growth are created in the unresolved. To “resolve” is to “to settle or find a solution, decide firmly on a course of action, or firm determination to do something.” Maybe it is essential to resolve to do X, Y, or Z, but perhaps we can allow ourselves to step outside the yearly resolution box and allow self improvement to be a more fluid process. This year, I resolve to be unresolved– to allow myself to have many reset opportunities and embrace not only 2nd chances, but third, forth, and maybe even fifth…all in 2014.  

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