The Hart Home│For My Little Boy

A year ago, I was heavily pregnant with you and struggling to get through each day. I was so exhausted and you were already on your way to being 10 pounds. I was running out of room in my body and you just wanted to stay inside me. I made it too comfortable for you.

I found it hard to breathe or eat or really function outside of the recliner we have. I also was so excited to meet you. In a week from now, I would have labor that would start and stop. We had one full false alarm and then finally when we were well past our due date, they finally induced me, but you still wanted to stay inside.

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An emergency c-section and several complications later and my beautiful baby boy that I had dreamed and prayed for was at last in my arms with his haunting almost black eyes and my face staring back at me.

We had a crazy first year together with me writing my doctoral dissertation and my going back to work way too soon. I have enjoyed every day that I am home with you this summer getting to see you turn from that little baby I brought home to the charismatic, brave and funny little boy you are so quickly becoming.

Getting to know you now as a little boy are the best ways I spend my days. You think so many things are funny and you love cuddling with me. You also love to tell me stories and yell at the TV. You’re walking everywhere and if you can figure out how to climb something, you will.

I find myself falling more in love with you every day, but also, I find myself getting a little sad at the end of each because I know by morning you’re going to be even more of a little boy and less of the baby that I have held and cradled, soothed and rocked, wore and breastfed for the last year. You’re finding your independence and as a mother that makes me very proud because it means I have loved you well, but at the same time, it makes me sad because you won’t need me like you did when I first brought you home.

I catch myself watching you sleep more and cuddling close to you, wanting to get in every last minute of who you are now, smelling your little head and holding your little hands. It amazes me how in another year, you will be so much more like a little boy and again I will feel this bittersweet sadness over your growing up.

No matter how old you are though, you will always be my little prince.

The Hart Home│What They Don’t Tell You is That There Will Be No Time and So Much Poop

I took a little step back from blogging as much as I was to enjoy the first few weeks of summer vacation with my son. I have had such anxiety every day this year since I came back from maternity leave when I would leave him to go to work and it turns out, Logan was feeling the same way. We have been inseparable since I have been home. He just wants his mom and I just want my baby. I am sure I will write more about this in a future post.

Today, I wanted to share the story where I felt like I really became a mother. Outside of my anxiety of leaving my son every day, I also struggled with my identity as well. I have been working sometimes up to 7 days a week and doing a doctoral degree full time up until I had Logan. My interests and hobbies and friendships all took a back seat because I was working on paying for a wedding and then, finishing school. As I approached the end of that journey, I realized how far from myself I had come.

poop

While I know that my weekends at concerts and trips to music festivals and art shows are not going to dominate my life like they used to, I do know that I can have some of that back as I navigate my life as Logan’s mom. Time is just stretched so thin and it’s really of the essence more so than we get a lazy day of not doing much of anything. Time has sped up 1000% since Logan came home. I have to consciously make time for friendships or time doing other things outside of being a mom and a teacher. It took me several days to find the time to text one of my good friends that I haven’t spoken to in over a year. Just as we were catching up and updating each other about everything that we have going on, Logan went into the kitchen for a brief moment.

Now, I have been letting him toddle into the very baby proofed room and giving him a minute before I go after him. Well, in that minute my son pooped on the floor, peed on top of it and came back into the living room with a hand full of poop outstretched with the biggest smile on his face as if he were so proud to finally have figured out where his stinky diapers come from.

I immediately grabbed him and picked him up, holding his hand out away from me as the stink permeated the living room. I run to the kitchen and find the carnage. He smashed most of it and then the true horror came into view…we fed him corn last night with dinner. I wanted to puke.

I quickly get him up into a bath and changed into a fresh diaper and clothes. I run downstairs and throw the baby gate up to keep him out while I scrub the kitchen floor and made sure to find all of his corn kernels, gagging the entire time. He happily sat watching his cartoons like all was right with the world.

Kids man, why didn’t anyone warn me about the poop???

By the time I got back to my phone, my friend was off doing her thing and the conversation died. And there I sat in my living room with my de-pooped kid watching Simple Songs on YouTube until my husband came home laughing because I had texted him the entire poop saga.

I don’ think I can ever look at corn or my kid the same way again.

The Hart Home│A Year Ago Today

A year ago today I was waking up heavily pregnant. I was exhausted. We were also passed the second week that my aunt was told that she had left to live. She was an hour away from me. I had planned on going back that day, but I was just so pregnant and tired and really was not in the forgiving mood for other family members that would be there.

aunts

I laid in bed for a good hour, staring at the ceiling weighing out my options. If I didn’t go and I waited, I would probably miss seeing my aunt for the last time. While I had seen her the previous weekend, she was still up and talking, but according to my brother, she was going down fast and was sleeping most of the time now. I would also regret that for the rest of my life. If I did go, it would be exhausting and I would have to deal with a lot of things.

I pulled the cover over my head.

My husband found me soon after. He made me sit up.

“If you don’t go today, you won’t get tomorrow.”

Damn it, I really hate it when he’s right.

“And we both know that if you don’t get another visit in before she passes, you’re going to regret it. You have to go.”

Did I mention, that I really hate it when he’s right?

I threw on a pair of leggings and a sweatshirt and slipped into my sandals. I texted my cousin and asked if they needed anything. I went on a hunt for glutenfree pizza from one of the many pizza places around me. When you live in Virginia and have a gluten intolerance, you rely on your jersey pizza. I finally found it at the pizza place we don’t usually go to and was on my way home.

When I got to the house that so much of my life had transpired in: birthdays, holidays, bringing home my husband– I wasn’t prepared to see my aunt so far gone already. It was clear that within the next day or so, she would be with Jesus. She had been talking to my uncle who had died when I was 12 when she was still awake and was talking about seeing other people who weren’t there. If I ever questioned if we lived after our physical body dies, it was this that gave me hope that there is more after this.

In some ways, it turned into just another visit. We sat talking about life, the baby and my teaching life. It must have been a comfort to her to know that we were all there and that life would go on even if she was missed every single day. My mom and I had looked over at the same time to see my aunt struggling to take her last breaths. Surrounded by my mom, myself, my grandmother, my cousins, my brother and my uncle, my aunt quietly slipped away. And just like that, it was over.

We sat with her for a couple of hours as the reality didn’t even sink in that she was gone. The hospice nurse came and pronounced that she was gone. It still didn’t feel real. My mom and I sat with my cousin as we watched the funeral home take her. The men were there too, but there was something about that moment between us women. It was always us four, even when my cousin and I were younger.

After that everything was a haze. My grandmother had to be moved to assisted living. The house was being sold, my uncle was leaving with my cousin for Virginia. I suddenly had all of these family things in my own home and I was slowly coming to accepting the idea that my aunt would never get to meet my son even though she had been looking forward to his arrival so much. Then it was the funeral and then it was like everything that was my aunt was suddenly gone– my aunt herself, the house that had been my center for many years and with it, was the last of my childhood. I would become a mom 2 months later and life has not been the same since.

It would take more time for me to realize the impact that losing my aunt would have one my life. It was my aunt and my grandmother who I would go to when I needed help and advice and suddenly, my grandmother seemed 20 years older than she had been last year and my aunt was no longer here to call or visit. My aunt was like a mother to me in many ways, she always made sure I had things– new clothes for sorority life, makeup, jewelry, etc. She was also the first one to read my manuscripts and avidly read all of my blog attempts and then would drive me crazy with her commentary to my grandmother about my blogs (usually ones about dating).  Christmas was always a huge deal at her house so was every other holiday including our birthdays. She was the heart of our family and since she left us, it’s been strange trying to rebuild that center.

A year ago today, life had changed as I had known it.

Note: This was scheduled to appear yesterday, June 10, 2019, on the first anniversary of losing my aunt, but I couldn’t get through writing it. So, it appears now, after writing and revising this many times over since yesterday afternoon. 

The Hart Home│How I Knew My Husband was Different

My husband and I were together for almost 4 years before we got married. We took our time, we dated for a year and a half before we moved in together. Then we lived together for a year before we got engaged and were engaged for a year before we got married. We enjoyed each other and we enjoyed getting to know each version of each other that we got to meet as our relationship changed and deepened. However, falling in love with each other happened fairly quickly. We knew we wanted to be with each other exclusively by the fourth date and by 6 months, we were talking about building a future together.

 

I had lunch with an old friend a couple of months ago and when we met up, I found out that she had ended it with what she thought was going to be her person because he suddenly decided he didn’t really want to be with her, but at the same time didn’t want to let her go either. Girl, I remember that relationship all too well. It takes a lot of courage to let go of the sliver of hope that one day it’ll be good again and brave it alone. She had asked me how I knew that my husband was different and at the time I really didn’t have an answer other than I just knew and it was because he spoke differently than other men had before him.

I’ve had four relationships in my life. I had the high school into college boyfriend who at the end of it, we found that we were more friends than we were romantic partners, I had the big one that leveled me, I had the rebound relationship and then I met my husband. And there were a bunch of bad dates, weird run-ins and a couple of whatever this is, it isn’ts. All of my boyfriends had told me that they had loved me, they had had their sweet moments and they had had their raising jerk moments too and outside of the big heartbreak, the rest all had mentioned wanting a future with me (he would say things that would always allude to a future, but he never really said it). He’d say things like “I know you’re going to be happy from now on and I know you’ll never feel alone again,” but that’s really where it ended. And with the others, those words always seemed superficial and like they were saying it because they thought that was what I wanted to hear rather than honesty which is what I craved in relationships for a long time.

Then I met my husband. And he truthfully always told me what he wanted from me and unlike other men before him, I found that his loyalty matched mine. I am a very loyal person and when I decide that you are worthy of that loyalty, I will defend you till the end. However, many people are not like that and my husband was the first person I met where he too, would protect you to the end if you were his person. He also loved his mother and his family and wanted one of his own eventually. He also courted me, he held to his word– if he said he was going to do something, he did. If I ever called him needing help, he was the first one there. It was easy and effortless to be myself with him and vice versa.

And he met any hurdle I put down. I made it clear I wasn’t putting up with anything that wasn’t right for me or compromised myself or my self-worth. He didn’t even test that, but instead, never made me question it. We both were completely open with one another.

That is how he was different and that is how love and a marriage were able to blossom between us. We respected each other and we not only love one another, but we choose each other every day. When you meet your person, they’re going to be your person no matter what. Even when they’re mad at you, they will still be there. You’re not going to question or have anxiety over where you stand with someone, it’s all going to be very easy and it will naturally unfold. While my and husband and I disagree on things, we don’t really fight. We have had one big fight in the now nearly 6 years that we have been together and that was fueled more by the stress of buying a house than it was anything between us.

Your person is just going to be different and better than anything that you ever could have dreamed of. You deserve that person and they deserve you.

The Hart Home│My First Mother’s Day

My first Mother’s Day was a little bittersweet. I missed my aunt as this was the first Mother’s Day without her so there was a sadness throughout the day that she wasn’t there. She was so excited to meet Logan and it makes me really sad that she was gone before she had a chance to do so. They would have loved each other.

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Me and my boy on my first Mother’s Day.

I got to sleep the night before because my husband took teething baby duty and when I woke up there were roses and my favorite ice cream because on Mother’s Day calories don’t count and you can get butter pecan ice cream for breakfast and it is okay. Mother’s Day is a mandatory work day for my husband so it would have been nice to have had him there yesterday, but he had to work. We made up for it later with the AWFUL, DISAPPOINTING (I won’t go further because…spoilers) Game of Thrones episode.

Going to my mom’s puts me back to where I grew up even though she doesn’t live there anymore. I drive through my hometown and through my college town to get there and every time I take that trip it reminds me of so much of my life. It got me thinking about the small identity crisis that I have been going through and the very true fact that I had lost part of myself throughout the years. I started thinking about when I was done with my PhD I would go back to Rutgers and take some graduate classes in art history and just enjoy it. Then, I laughed at myself because can I really stay in school forever? Probably.

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My fortune cookie

After that daydream about Rutgers and art history, I couldn’t help but laugh at my fortune cookie following the annual Mother’s Day Chinese food feast. I’ll take it as a reminder that I as figure out the next phase of my life that I had to escape from who I was to become who I was supposed to be, but that doesn’t mean all of my former self is lost forever. She was just away for awhile while I focused on other things.

sleeping me and logan

And those focusing on other things led me right here to meeting my husband and getting to be a mom to this amazing little boy. His Mother’s Day gift to me? He took his first steps on Friday when his dad and I were sitting in our living room and talking. We both got to see him do it together. It was the best gift he could have given us this weekend. I can’t believe how fast it’s going. I just wish time would slow down a little bit because I can’t imagine having to watch this little boy leave us.

I hope you all had a wonderful day filled with love and family.

The Hart Home│Onward!

I began dissertation when I was at the end of my pregnancy and was eagerly awaiting Logan’s arrival. It was an insane time to be that pregnant and trying to write a doctoral dissertation and I struggled during my first couple of terms. Whenever I hit a forward point in my dissertation, my mentor would conclude his comments, advice and/or congratulations with an ONWARD! I found it highly motivating, at first, but now that I am burning out from this 150-page paper…I am looking forward to never having to see ONWARD again.

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I lost my mind a little bit yesterday. It was a hard day of testing middle schoolers who are just done and dealing with my university that suddenly decided to stick me with a huge bill because they screwed up and overcalculated my financial aid…from LAST YEAR and are now trying to get me to pay back a loan that they awarded me and has been gathering interest all year. And they want to act like oh well, it happens. That sort of thing happens when someone doesn’t do their job correctly. This is why I hate for-profit universities. The way they mismanage students and their money is disgusting and I am, unfortunately, not the only person they have done this to. They’re actually in the midst of a class action lawsuit because of their business practices and the hefty costs that they push on to doctoral students.

I have valued my time there with their core staff. I learned a lot from really great educational leaders from all over this country and each of them has lent themselves in some way to my research and I am where I am because of their knowledge and support. What I have not loved is the vast level of incompetence that pervades much of their support departments because they hire people for those jobs that have no clue what they are doing and there is often a quick turn over amongst them so it’s often just a continuous cycle of stupidity and insanity that gets pushed onto already highly stressed doctoral students who really just want their degree.

I have reached that point. I just want my degree. I want to move on with my life.

Just as I was at my end yesterday and texting my advisor my options for withdrawing and being “all but dissertation” for the rest of my life because I didn’t have it in me for another fight with this school’s support services (this is the third time they have done something out of left field nuts which impacted my finances or ability to register) my mentor had emailed me that he had approved of my completed dissertation and had forwarded it on to my committee for their review and commentary.

And as always he concluded with his bold, ONWARD!

It calmed me down a bit. I requested for the third time documentation about this financial conundrum that they have put me in. And then I took a deep breath.

I have two weeks before I will hear back and then, I am hopeful that there won’t be any edits and that if there are, they are small. I can do the tweaking quickly and then, it goes to my school for one last back and forth review before it goes for formatting and the dean’s approval. I probably will not get to my dissertation defense during this quarter because everything from here on out is depending on other people to be available to read and edit and approve of my work. I am okay with that though and I will most likely finish over the summer which means I will not get to attend the graduation in Minneapolis, but we will have to go to Orlando which I can already hear my husband screaming with excitement in the background. He would move us to Florida if he could.

ONWARD!

The Hart Home │ The Girl That was Gone at the Crossroads

In my early 20’s I had graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in art history and journalism. I was set to go to graduate school for art business. I saw a world of possibilities in Europe, and art and everything that lay before me. I had finally ended things with my high school into college sweetheart and was ready to embrace the life that I had been building for myself.

And then I collided (there really is no other way to describe it) with the first person I ever truly loved. That love was steeped in such a part of me that was that artsy girl who loved life and reading and traveling. And then after many months of being together, he turned the tables on me and I ended it because I thought I was protecting myself from him and from my feelings. To go from having someone who would call me ten times a day and talk to me for hours, send me flowers and court me in every sense of the word to then flip the way that he did hurt me in ways that I wouldn’t even realize for years.

It derailed me from my life as it was. I fell into a deep depression, it took me years before I felt like I could trust anyone again and to stop encompassing bad habits that I thought were making me get over it all, but in reality, were just causing more damage. He took from me that artsy girl I was and it’s a piece of me that I have never quite recovered. This was a turning point in my life where I abandoned the life I had and I pursued education and went full force with that instead of becoming the art history professor that I had wanted to be. I pursued education because it felt good to me to take all of that hurt and do something good in the world with it instead of allowing it to fester and become something I used to hurt someone else with.

Only now, I am finding myself again at a crossroads in my life. I am graduating this summer or fall depending on when I get to defend my dissertation and then I am done with my Ph.D. I will have gone as far with it as I had wanted to do with art history and I also know that I am at the point where I am ready to leave the classroom. In my heart, I know I have done as much good as I am going to do and to stay would just make me bitter. My husband and I were talking about all of this last night and he told me that while he has gotten glimpses of that girl that has been gone every once in a while, he never really got to know that side of me because the side he did get was a woman trying to save the world and growing angry when she couldn’t get funding and couldn’t make something better for her students and when you teach in high poverty like I do, this is a frequent if not daily occurrence. He told me that he would love to meet the girl that has been gone, she seems pretty cool.

With this time of my life and my time as a classroom teacher coming to a close, it’s also a chapter of my life closing that began 10 years ago with that collision. I am looking out on that future that lays ahead of me again where I am completely finished with school and have countless options ahead of me. And this time, I have my real true love by my side and our handsome little boy along with me for the ride into the next chapter of my life.  Thankfully, my boys are just as goofy as I am and we take really great family photos at weddings:

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We decided last night that as we look for our family’s forever home we’re going to add to our list of wants a space that I could make a studio so that I could start painting and doing pottery again. My best friend also started to send me jobs closer to her so that we can find ourselves together and start going on adventures again like we used to. I am thankful that this is going to be a very blessed season of my life filled with love and support from those who have known me the longest and have been around for this crazy ride. I am also excited to embrace that side of myself that I buried when my heart was completely broken. I would like to see who that person is now that she is older and in a much better place in her life.