Becoming Mother

A book and a blog for first-time mothers

Tag: christmas

A Long December: Reflections on a Decision that Changed Everything

Rocking my almost two-year-old son in the rocking chair.

Christmas night.

The humidifier steams. The white noise machine zzhhhhhhs.

Faint lights from passing cars travel across the walls.

With his soft breath against my shoulder, I rock back and back and back. One year. Two years. Five years. Ten years. As many Christmases as I can remember.

Plenty of happy ones.

Plenty of ones filled with tension. (Growing up in a house with four teenagers will do that).

Plenty of forgettable ones in my 20s. (That limbo between getting married and having kids.)

Now, we’ve entered a series of Christmases that no longer mean comfort and joy or the most wonderful time of the year.

There was the Christmas of Nausea (2012), when I grasped for ginger candy and Sea Bands or whatever anyone suggested that might help me ride the waves of first trimester nausea. From December until mid-January. (Truly a delight, let me tell you.)

And the 37-Weeks-Pregnant Christmas (2016), when I told myself that I only had three weeks left to go. (It turned out to be another five weeks. Yeah.)

And all those fun Christmases of Illness (2014, 2017, 2018). 2017 was by far the worst, as the baby’s diarrhea stretched on for a few weeks, taking us all down into its shitty vortex.

And the downright sad Christmas (2015) when the baby’s heart stopped beating. After I had a D & C on New Year’s Eve, I sat in the parking lot of Whole Foods while my husband bought me a slice of apple pie. I listened to “Long December” by the Counting Crows and cried.

And it’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe

Maybe this year will be better than the last

I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell myself

to hold on to these moments as they pass

But if I’m really thinking about the Christmas when everything in my life changed direction, when I started plotting a course that brought me to this rocking chair, with this child in my arms, while my oldest sleeps in her bed across the hall, I always end up traveling back to Christmas of 2002.

It was Christmas Eve. 11:00 p.m. At Wal-Mart. And I was standing in the card aisle. Looking for cards for a few friends and my boyfriend. I had no trouble picking out the cards for my friends.

But I was having the hardest time picking out one for my boyfriend of three years.

Forever and always. My one and only. Meant for each other.

I couldn’t even pick them up to consider them.

Because I understood, suddenly and completely, that I couldn’t see a future for us anymore, the way that I used to.

What was our future? It was his vision for what we would become. A married couple. A house. No kids. I could be a teacher, but did I really need any more education than a Bachelor’s degree? Why did I want to travel when he was the most important thing in my life? Wasn’t a life with him good enough? And kids? Why have kids? They just ruin a good thing.

And for a long time, I thought, Yes, of course. You’re right. You are the only thing that I want in life. I couldn’t possibly want anything else. Right. I don’t want kids. Nah, too much work. We’d be much happier by ourselves. Living our life together without kids getting in the way.

But I did want more. Much more. And in time, conversations about the future brought me back again and again to a realization that I could not ignore.

We had come as far as we could together, but now there was more pulling us apart than was keeping us together.

And although my heart had been feeling that way for some time, I didn’t want to give up. I had poured so much of myself into making it work. I wasn’t a quitter. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I liked his family. I didn’t want to make life more difficult or more inconvenient for anyone.

And above all, I didn’t want to believe that although love can bring people together, sometimes it wasn’t enough to keep them together. No one makes movies or songs about the power of finding someone with compatible values and goals for life, or someone who trusts you and works with you to resolve conflict. It’s not sexy enough. And if I’m being honest with myself, I didn’t have the vocabulary back then to even articulate the problems.

I just remember thinking, This isn’t working.

I thought that a lot.

And yet, I was like the women in my family who came before me: devoted and long-suffering, servile and contented.

To end this relationship was not within my repertoire. At all.

But I also couldn’t lie to myself.

And therefore, I wouldn’t lie to anyone else anymore either.

I paid for the cards for my friends, got in my old car, turned the heat up, and flipped on the radio. The voice of Stevie Nicks reached through the speakers and the tears rolled.

Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?

Can I handle the seasons of my life?

I don’t know.

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing

Because I built my life around you

But time makes you bolder, children get older

And I’m getting older too

I didn’t realize it yet, but when I left that store that night, I had changed the entire trajectory of my life.

Because the very next guy that I dated became my husband.

Three years later, we were married.

And we had two kids.

Doug_Sharon_2002_01

***

I know. I know.

It’s what we’re tempted to believe: That all the decisions–good and bad–that we’ve made in our lives have brought us to a point for which we’re ultimately grateful.

But, had I made different decisions, would I have ended up somewhere else, where I would be equally as grateful?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

But what I do know is that I did something extraordinary on Christmas Eve of 2002.

For years, I imagined my future, married, but no children. Never kids.

But on Christmas Eve of 2002, I allowed myself to imagine a different future.

A life in which, someday…

maybe…

I might have kids.

It turns out, as it is with a lot of things, the biggest steps that we take all start with a thought.

The simple willingness to imagine a different future.

That ability to imagine a different future has taken me far beyond the original course that I had plotted for my life. It has helped me imagine that I could get a Master’s degree. And travel overseas. And change my political and religious beliefs. And write a book. And lose forty pounds. (Three times, yeah.) And relearn algebra. (It’s true.)

And, yeah, it has helped me to imagine a life that includes kids.

And, with endless gratitude, it has helped me imagine a future moment in my life when my children won’t always need me every moment that they are awake. And a time when we won’t have to pay for babysitters. And a time when we can travel with them without losing our minds.

What about you?

What different future do you imagine for yourself?

And what will you do tomorrow to help you get there?

May you surprise yourself in this next year.

2018 Year in Review: a.k.a Why Doing Nothing is Sometimes Everything

While I normally LOVE to be productive and useful, the past few days, I have done little else besides completely veg out.

This is what I do to myself: I do ALL THE THINGS. For months on end. (I won’t even list them out. I’m sure you have your own list of ALL OF THE THINGS).

And while I’m doing all of those things, I think in the back of my mind, When I finally have some time to myself, I’ll do X or Y. (And X or Y is usually a second-priority item from ALL OF THE THINGS that I just don’t have time for).

And then I hit a wall.

And then I do NONE OF THE THINGS.

(Are you like that? I can’t be alone in that.)

I don’t do skirts or pantyhose. Or makeup. I “sleep in” until 5:30 or 6:00. (Sad? Meh. It’s tolerable.) It’s the fluffy pink bathrobe around the house (most of the day, at least). In this week before Christmas when I’m not teaching, without a shred of guilt, I send my beautiful children to daycare.

And I am finally alone.

And what do I do?

Let’s start with what I DON’T do.

I don’t think about upcoming presentations or writing that I could be doing. I (mostly) don’t write. It’s not because I don’t want to. It’s simply because after so many months of giving pieces of myself to everyone else, I’ve got to have time to turn inward and fill my own cup.

Instead, I watch movies and shows. I read books. I listen to podcasts or read articles that I’ve been meaning to read for months. I exercise when I want to. I send the cards, I dole out the Christmas bonuses to every lovely daycare teacher that deals with our kids, and I stuff the stockings.

In fact, I kind of love that part of Christmas. Because it gives me time to think about the people in my life for whom I’m grateful. It takes a village, right? Damn right, it does. And I want my village to know that I’m grateful for every blessed day that they take care of my kids so I can continue to pursue my own goals.

I also get the few gifts that we’ll give our kids. (Don’t tell them, but it’s a few small games, some Play-Doh, hand puppets, and some winter clothes.) We don’t really do many gifts at Christmas. My husband and I don’t exchange gifts. Seriously. What’s the point? Instead of gifts, what we’ve said we’re going to do for each other is give the other person a solid day of not having to take care of the kids from sunup to sundown.

(Merry Christmas, BG. Love you.)

Love my kids.

Love ’em.

But I also enjoy such privileges like, I don’t know, setting my own agenda. Or making a decision based on what I feel like.

Guess what I discovered over the past few days while my kids have been at daycare?

7:00 a.m. is the perfect time on a winter day to go for a run. The sun is just starting to come up and the frost is still crisp on the fallen leaves. It’s light enough to easily spot patches of ice, but the sun isn’t high enough yet to blind you. And in that perfect light, your breath comes out in fluffy white puffs, momentarily adorning the air.

And I love lying still on the middle of the living room floor, eyes closed, no damn phone in my hand or notifications calling for my attention, for a solid 30 minutes.

And laughing about South Park’s Buddha Box.

And crying with PBS’ newest version of Little Women.

And thinking about Black Mirror’s Hang the DJ.

And reflecting on how much the kids have grown this past year.

 

So this Christmas, I’m happy to Bow Out, Sign Off, and Check Out.

And be happy to do None of the Things.

Hoping you all find your own Time and Space and Peace.

Sharon

Christmas Promotion: “Becoming Mother” $0.99 Kindle Book, 11/30 only!

If you’re a first-time mother (or father!), I wrote this book for you.

becoming mother cover

This book isn’t about the baby.

It’s about the mother.

It’s about the huge physical, emotional, and psychological challenges that she faces every day as she struggles to be a mother. Not only is it great for first-time mothers, it’s awesome for new fathers and for friends who don’t have kids, but want to have an idea of what new mothers experience.

But I’d prefer to let you read what others are saying about this book. Check out these reviews below:

Dana Schwartz, Writing at the Table

http://danaschwartzwrites.com/2015/11/02/becoming-mother/

Tara Tona, Project: Women

http://thisisprojectwomen.com/2015/11/20/book-review-becoming-mother-by-sharon-tjaden-glass/

You can download the Kindle version of Becoming Mother: A Journey of Identity for only $0.99, (normally $6.99) on Monday, 11/30/2015 only! 

On Tuesday, 12/1, you can purchase it for $2.99.

On Wednesday, 12/2, you can purchase it for $4.99.

Spread the word!

 

 

 

Black Friday Selling Updates

So Black Friday selling wasn’t a complete bust.

Here are some highlights:

I was yelled at by a woman who was disgusted with my book.

She had corkscrew red and white hair and wore thin penciled eyebrows and a rumpled cream tunic. And she was most likely crazy. The interchange went like this.

“Becoming mother?” she said in disbelief. “What is this?”

“It’s a book about becoming a mother,” I stated the obvious.

She shook her head in disgust.

“What do you need a book for? God. What the hell?”

She points to the women walking behind her before she continued.

“We all did it! And we’re fine. We didn’t need a book!

“Well, it’s for first-time moms. Do you remember being a first-time mom?”

“Yeah, I do!” she yelled.

“Oh, okay. And you think it just wasn’t that hard?” I asked.

She shook her head in utter disbelief.

“I mean, what’s there to talk about?” she asked. “You have the baby, you take it home, they grow up, and then they die! God!”

(No, I’m not exaggerating this conversation at all. My mother was there to witness the whole thing–along with the other crazy dude that wandered behind my table and demanded to know WHAT I WAS DOING WITH ALL OF THIS!!!)

My guess is that this woman’s disgust with the concept of my book is a generational thing. Her comments struck me as implying something like, “Real women don’t think this is a big deal. You younger women need to get over yourselves and get on with being a mom. God!”

But then, I also had some nice conversations.

Besides the crazy people, I had some nice conversations with several women who were expecting babies in March and April. I talked with some excited future grandmothers who were thrilled to buy something for their newly pregnant daughters.

One pregnant woman told me that she had had four miscarriages in the last year and she was now at 23 weeks with her fifth pregnancy.

“This is the farthest I’ve gotten so…”

We commiserated about obstetricians and pregnancy and wondered why some doctors don’t try harder to figure out why you miscarry. (The culprit in her miscarriages was low progesterone levels–left undiagnosed throughout all of her miscarriages).

She bought a copy and I wished her good luck.

One woman had just become a grandmother twice in the last two months. She bragged about how big one of the babies was (“Eleven pounds, sixteen ounces!”) as she bought two copies of my book.

I sold five copies of my book, packaged in $20 gift sets, so I’ve covered about half of my booth fee.

Okay, so I knew I wasn’t going to be raking in money hand over fist at this event, but I don’t think my time spent today was a total loss.

I reached five new readers that I wouldn’t have otherwise reached.

I realized that it doesn’t really matter if I stand at my table or if I sit and do something else.

All of my customers have approached me while I’ve been typing or while I’ve been talking with my mother or sister. Not one person paused at my table while I was actively trying to get their attention or start a conversation. In fact, I think people preferred to not have the pressure of the vendor trying to reel them in (Hey, I know that I hate that…)

Tomorrow, I’ll go easier on myself and just try to enjoy the possibility of selling more books.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing this journey with me!

 

Live from Black Friday Book Selling

So I’m selling my newly published book at Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio for the next three days.

A disclaimer: Selling like this makes me feel uncomfortable. As I’ve said before, selling like this makes me feel like *I* am on sale. This is a memoir, a book about my life.

So I tried to take the first comment of the day in stride.

An older man, a fellow exhibitor, walked by my booth as the doors were just about to open. He sized up my book and said, “Is this a book about being a mom?”

I said, “Well, it’s a book about becoming a mom.”

“Okay…”

He looked around my table.

“Is that all you have? Just the book?”

“Yep.”

“Hmm…”

Long silence.

I know that this booth is a bit out of place. There are hardly any items on the table.

National Holiday Gift Show 001

Just a small stack of books and a display of items for the gift set.

“Interesting…”

“Thank you,” I said.

“This isn’t really a reading crowd, but… good luck to you.”

Geez, Dude. Thanks for the pick-me-up.

Okay, so I’m more than a bit out of place.

I’m surrounded by far more exciting booths: a posh clothing boutique decorated with all things Parisian, a booth dripping with jewelry, and I swear to God, an Ohio State Football booth, manned by an actual Ohio State Football player (his jersey says “Cotton?”).

The doors opened at 9:00 and I debated in my head about whether or not it would be better to sit or stand.

I tried standing, looking out at the people passing by and saying hello.

Most of them didn’t want to make eye contact. Or they missed me completely as they darted to the Ohio State booth. I smiled. I said hello. I smiled. I said hello. Hello. Good morning.

Oh! Someone with a baby! Get her! Oh… she’s gone. 

Look at all of them around the Ohio State booth. God, they can’t get enough of it. 

No one here is going to buy this book. Look at all of them. He’s right. No one here reads…

Okay, maybe standing isn’t working. Maybe I should try the disinterested approach.

I sit down and start typing away on my computer.

At least I don’t have to be bored while I tailspin into low self-esteem.

***

At least there are a lot of people here. There is a steady stream of people passing by my booth.

While I’ve been writing this, a woman stopped by my table and said that she wished she would have known about this book a little sooner. Her niece just had a baby on Monday.

“Oh, really? This is actually even better for her now that she’s had the baby. This book goes all the way to the end of the first year postpartum.”

Her eyebrows lifted. She thumbed through the book as we chatted.

She eyed the price, the purchasing options. I told her that I was selling the gift set today and that if she wanted just the book she could get it on Amazon for a bit cheaper.

“I’ll think on it.”

I offered her my card and she smiled as she took it.

We said good-bye.

Oh well…  I thought.

I resumed typing away on this blog post and noticed someone staring at my table.

We struck up a conversation. Her daughter is expecting a baby next April. I pitched her the book.

She bought a copy.

More to come…

 

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