A Letter To My 30-Year Old Self : Lily Gieryn

Obvi, We're The Ladies

Well, Self…  thirty is just around the corner.  What are we going to do?

Self, I think we can agree that we’ve never dreamed about thirty.  Who does?  Twenty-something is romanticized in books, movies, music…  Thirty?  At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be anything romantic about thirty.  It even sounds unromantic.  Twenty sounds peppy, energetic.  Thirty sounds like something you get after eating bad Mexican food.

Well, Self, you need to shake that off because facts are facts and we are looking at the big three-oh in about eleven months.

Self, your twenties brought some big changes.  Two degrees, marriage, a baby and a big move!  I know that you’ve felt shaken by these changes; don’t think I haven’t noticed you taking cover in the comforts of pajamas and Netflix night after night instead of exploring and socializing.  I know that in trying to find stable ground you’ve taken…

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Don’t Call Me A Hypocrite….

For anyone who may have missed it, Baby Girl celebrated her 1st birthday this past weekend.  There were balloons, there was cake, presents, family and friends.

Unfortunately, a great age comes with great responsibility – see:  Shots.

Nola had her 12 month doctor’s appointment – the appointment when she received her MMR shot.

I am a science-minded person.  I know what literature is out there.  I strongly believe that the benefits of vaccines outweigh potential risks – especially after my first year as a mommy and my first 6 months as a professional working with people with compromised immune systems.

But I’m not going to lie.  I was worried.  I am worried. Just a little.

Because, the science could all be right and the studies peer reviewed and validated… but what if there is a link between MMR and Autism?  And what if my kid happened to be one of the tiny statistics that has evolved into the anti-vaxx movement?  What if the feisty, energetic personality that I have come to love and adore disappeared or morphed into someone I didn’t quite recognize?  What if I had to learn my daughter all over again?

The husband brought her to me at workfollowing the appointment; she napped wrapped in my arms at my desk.  I will be perfectly honest, all I could do was kiss the top of her perfect head every few minutes – little work was done yesterday morning.  When she woke up, as silly and energetic as usual, I couldn’t help but breathe just a touch easier.

Where I Want to Be

When I was pregnant, one of the things I hated the most was unsolicited advice on things I needed to do before the baby comes.

As in – “Sleep now, because you’ll never sleep again!

Or – “Enjoy the quiet now, because it’ll never be quiet again!”

And even – “Have sex now, because you’ll never have sex again!”

The ominous warnings were given so often and freely that if I were a less stubborn person, I might have begun stocking up on sleep, quiet, and sex like a doomsday-prepper hoards packets of soup and ammo. Naively, I did think that once the baby came there would be necessary adjustments to daily life, but that I would be able to do everything I was able to do, enjoyed doing and wanted to do.  After all, I was having a baby not losing my legs. Almost a year with my darling baby girl has changed that outlook… but not in the way one might think. Yes, I could get more sleep some nights…  Yes, adopting co-sleeping habits makes having a wild sex life a little more difficult.  But this is exactly where I want to be. No one tells you that the things you thought you’d want to do change.  No one tells you how your world shifts; how you can enjoy a nice evening out but after a couple of hours you just want to be holding your little person in your arms. No one tells you that you’d opt for sharing a Valentine’s Day date with another (little) lady -or that you couldn’t imagine it any other way. No one tells you that you’ll think about who you used to be and that maybe you worry that you’re not entirely sure who this person looking back at you in the mirror is.   No one tells you how terrifying that is. My identity as a mother is consistently evolving and changing as I learn how this part of me joins the other parts – the funny part, the part that like to dance, that like cheap red wine, the advocate part, the part that swears like a sailor, the passionate part… And this? This is exactly where I want to be.

Eating BonBons…


My mother moved to town.  The safe buffer that was over 1200 miles has dwindled to zero.

I cannot complain – so far it has been more help than hindrance (although I really would like to have my kitchen back in my possession).  She even conceeded that she owed me an apology for not calling her enough because being here she sees how busy I am.  “You don’t stop from morning to night.”

Back to the Bonbons…

My knee-jerk reaction was – What kind of free time did you think I had?

But I do appreciate the apology.  Because someone once told me that “I’m tired” is the catchphrase of the 21st century and having a child, a job, a house, a husband, dogs, maybe friends and a million leaves in the yard that just seem to multiply…  Yes.  “I’m tired” is my catchphrase.

The truth is – I’m still not yet sure how to arrange my time.  I want to spend as much time with my baby girl as possible.  But my control-freak, anxiety driven, charming characteristics kick in to over drive when she needs to nap but she’ll only nap if I hold her and while she’s napping there’s laundry, dishes, the above-mentioned fucking leaves, grocery shopping, vacuuming… The list goes on and on. So there’s not even a possibility of sleeping when the baby sleeps because I am in panic mode while she’s sleeping making lists in my head.  Fitting in there trying to keep in touch with friends and family, making new friends…   I do what I can.

I’m thinking I should have made birth announcements that came with a disclaimer – “I promise I really am busy and not just ignoring you.  Unless you keep harping on me and then I am ignoring you.”


In All Seriousness.

Since the arrival of baby, my engagement in national and world news has become minimal.  Even hours spent in the glow of my iPad while rocking the baby back to sleep in the middle of the night have been spent on trashier subjects and websites (Jezebel, Buzzfeed) and browsing items I cannot afford to buy.  Admittedly, most of my news comes from my following Chicago’s ABC 7 and the Kansas City Star on Facebook or (what I find to be suuuuuuper funny) conservative talk radio.

But recently, I feel less and less guilty about this.

I don’t know if my newsfeed snippets focus on the sensationally horrific stories or if the incidence of violence against children has risen dramatically.  Or maybe it’s because I now have a child that I pay closer attention.  Whatever it is, my stomach twists in an increasingly familiar way, my heart jumps to my throat and I fight back the urge to cry and/or throw up.

Today, I read a quick blurb about a preschooler that was hung by his feet and beaten to death.  Why?  How?

Have we become a more violent people?  When did this happen?  Why has this happened?

I’d like to think that I am educated enough to understand some of the issues regarding child abuse.  I understand how things like poverty and education impact parenting.  I have strong opinions regarding postpartum depression and psychosis and become furious with less than competent health care providers that perhaps could have relieved or prevented this pain.  The Social Worker part of me can try to break it down, pinpoint the steps and mis-steps but lately, the mom part of me weighs much more heavily when considering situations like this.

As the mother of a daughter, my heart already breaks.  I didn’t want a girl.  Despite the fact that it’s 2014 and “go Hilary” and Lily Ledbetter and all that jazz there is still an inherent societal misogyny that is pulsing; sometimes so intensely that I become paranoid about my safety and the protection of my rights.  Statistics suggest that one in five women will be sexually assaulted.  I carry the complex emotions of my own sexual trauma.  I know, as a woman, how it feels to be objectified, to be made to feel less than or only worth what my body has been valued at.

Stories like this, or the one yesterday about the mother who threw her child off of a bridge cannot be processed by my mind.  I am terrified of all of the things that the world can inflict upon my sweet, innocent, loving girl – I could not imagine bringing those things to her by my own hand.

Running Just A Few Minutes Late… Always.

Pre-Baby, I was a product of my environment when it came to time and being punctual.  Picture me – the last one to be picked up from dance class, school, birthday parties – you get the idea.  Having to make awkward small talk while the adult in charge kind of patiently and kind of impatiently waiting for my mother to finally arrive.

Family members knew to invite her to events an hour before they were to start with hopes that she might make it on time.

So naturally, I became charmingly neurotic about being on time.  Never, EVER late.  If I were to forget to set my alarm I would wake up in a panic, all teary and mortified. I would stay home from school, insisting that missing the entire day was entirely necessary to avoid the shame of being late.  All clocks were set ahead.  I woke up hours before I needed to be anywhere, even though my typical morning routine can be completed in less than forty minutes.

Fast forward too Post-Baby… 

I usually have about forty minutes between the time my husband and baby leave for work and the time I have to be at work.  Lucky for me, my job is just a quick 4 minute drive from my house.  Being on time should be no problem whatsoever…

Except the second they walk out the door, I am a maniac – laundry, dishes, cleaning up what looks like it was squash at one point from the wall behind the garbage can that has been driving me nuts – cigarette break – coffee break – and before I know it, I have 2 minutes to brush my teeth and make the 4 minute drive.

Birthday parties, dinners, get togethers with friends…  Always late.  And I wish it were because my husband and I were caught up with one another in a romantic way (Wink wink)  or because the baby was doing something so adorable we couldn’t tear our eyes away – but no.  9 times out of 10 it is because I am running in circles around the house packing, cleaning, dog-proofing….

Luckily – and I give thanks to what I imagine are “mommy hormones” that chill me out just enough to avoid a break down in a type-A, control freak fueled temper tantrum. It really doesn’t bother me.  And that, folks, really creeps me out.

Now, were someone to say something, I may be inclined to glare and say something perfectly snarky about how I am a mom, a full time employee and a wife.  Or think it really hard in my head.

So yes.

Of all of the things that have changed with Baby, my commitment to punctuality has to be the most drastic change…