Being 30-something: Bring It On!

19 Jan

This last week I finished up this first year of my third decade on the planet. I’m totally in my 30s now, no doubt about it. But I have to say, I believe I’m the red-wine type; I’m getting better and better with age, and I’m not the least bit ashamed or worried about my age. Since my birthday is when I tend to reflect, much more so than on New Year’s Eve, I’ve been analyzing the results of the year I was 30. It mostly felt chaotic and busy, with too many ups and downs to count, and lots of big and dramatic events. I don’t know if it was more of a “good” year or a “bad” year, but it was surely another adventure.

Celebrating this birthday- not my most glamorous moment on the planet, but definitely a good one.

Celebrating this birthday- not my most glamorous moment on the planet, but definitely a good one.

Some HIghlights:

We’ve gone from having a skeleton of a house to having a very livable and in many ways wonderful house, complete with kitchen sink, two bathrooms, screens on the windows and much, much more. We’re even supposed to be getting electricity in the “near future” (whatever that means, Oaxaca), which will make for quite a positive change if/when it happens.

Conan and I officially got married this year, in a perfectly imperfect but lovely ceremony with many close friends and family members. (And we now have a beautiful album of photos to prove it. Thanks, Mama.) We have managed to not kill each other and sometimes enjoy each other’s company in the midst of all the chaos and constant growing pains.

I got my first ever full-time job, with benefits and all. I’ve now had paid vacation twice, in just over six months, plus I’m entitled to paid maternity leave (yep, Mexico is on top of the US on this one, for sure). On top of the benefits, it’s a pretty sweet teaching job. I get paid for my planning time, I got to help invent and implement a new curriculum (which I love to do), and I’m officially a “Profesora” (even though most of my students call me “Teacher”). It’s a rough schedule to have with a small child at home, but we’re adapting and doing the best we can, and I know that me getting to go do work that I enjoy helps me be a better mother when I am home, in many ways.

We bought our first family car, a nice roomy sedan instead of the punch buggy we were looking at originally. I’m even learning how to drive around here, which is an entirely different scenario from driving in the U.S., what with the lack of rules and regulations, not to mention the lack of infrastructure (read: unpaved roads, giant potholes, speed bumps galore).

Lucia’s language has exploded in the past year. She talks up a storm now, in very complete sentences and often entertaining slang, and doesn’t cease to surprise us with her vocabulary in Spanish, too. She’s started to do small translations, adjustments where she converts her speech to the appropriate language based on the person she’s addressing. It’s pretty cool to watch. She does simple ones automatically now, like when I say, “Say ‘bye-bye’ to Tia Luz,” for example, she’ll say “Adios,” whereas before she would say “bye-bye.” Then the other day her Abuela was telling her, “Ask Mami if she wants some jamaica (hibiscus).” First she said it to me in Spanish, exactly like her Abuela had told her, but when I said “What?” she changed it and asked me in English! Which is why I’m not buying her act that she doesn’t understand Spanish when she hears her Papi and I speak it. She’ll say, “Mommy, what did Papi say?” Maybe she’s just confirming that her mental translation is correct. Whatever the case, it’s a lot of fun to watch her use of language grow along with her.

In all kinds of ways Lucia has somehow sprouted into this little girl, this wondrous child, where just a year ago she was still a baby, or maybe a toddler at most. She is a thoughtful, outrageous, articulate, demanding, independent, funny, tender-hearted little creature. I love her more all the time, even when I want to pull my hair out from the frustration. I continue to grow as a mama, and have lots of lists going for things I want to do differently/better/not at all with kid #2, although I wouldn’t change my stinky-butt Lucia for anything.

Lucia's such a big girl she can help prepare the food!

Lucia’s such a big girl she can help prepare the food!

My little girl, enjoying the fruits of her labors (guacamole).

My little girl, enjoying the fruits of her labors (guacamole).

Speaking of kid #2, he or she is en route to arrive outside of my gigantic belly sometime in February, which we are all pretty thrilled about. Lucia (on a good day) even says she is going to share her toys! She doesn’t really understand why the baby doesn’t just get out of my belly already so she can play with him or her, but you can’t understand everything at age two even if you claim to. I’m excited that in my 30th year we created another little human, even if it wasn’t the most planned event of the year. We definitely wanted another little creature to brighten our family and keep Lucia company “sooner or later” anyway. I suspect if we had waited, however, until we were “more prepared” for a second child we might be past our childbearing years! So here’s to the universe’s wisdom.

We also have another new addition, just arrived a little over a week ago from right outside my office. She’s a sweet little kitten, and even though I can’t take on any litter-box-cleaning duties for now, Conan still agreed to let me bring her home. Lucia was excited, but frustrated when she was forbidden to touch the cat for several days. The vet had put flea treatment on her, and was treating her for worms, and advised that neither Lucia nor her pregnant mama touch the cat at first. Lucia was very irritated but very obedient about the situation, thanks to constant repetition of the prohibition. Her Papi explained over and over to her that the cat felt sick and had bugs, so Lucia couldn’t touch her until the cat felt better. Instead, Lucia would lie down on the floor and stare at the cat, as close as she could get without actually touching the cat. At one point she told the cat, “Sorry, cat, I can’t touch the cat because the cat has ladybugs.” (She tends to call every kind of bug a ladybug.) This is how the cat ended up with the name Ladybug, even though Lucia rejected the name Pumpkin, saying, “No, it’s a kitty cat, not a pumpkin.” Apparently it’s all different with Ladybug. After not having a cat for many years it’s really cool to have a kitten and start teaching my kid how to be gentle with animals. 

Ladybug says, "Excuse me, did someone invite you to my clothes pile hideout?"

Ladybug says, “Excuse me, did someone invite you to my clothes pile hideout?”

On paper (or on the internet) it sounds like a pretty fantastic year. Of course this rendition doesn’t include all the tears shed, tantrums thrown, arguments had, all the frustrations and angst and panic-ridden phone calls to my mother. It doesn’t include the moments that I dreamed about (or screamed about) walking away from my (brand new) marriage because things got difficult. It doesn’t include the moments of nearly banging my head on the wall in frustration because it seems impossible (or at least impossibly slow and difficult) to improve our lives here. The moments I questioned moving here, to a house in hot hot Puerto where we can’t even have a fan, where my kid wakes up begging for water at night, where you step out of the cold shower and start to sweat again, where we spend half my salary on ice to keep our food and drinks cool while we dream of a refrigerator.The moments I waited for my kid to fall asleep so I could go cry on the toilet in peace, questioning my capacity to be a good mother. The moments when I got home from work and all I wanted to do was sleep out my exhaustion and forget about my husband and my daughter and the cooking and bath time and what? Quality time as a couple? Grown up time? When can we make that happen? Feeling like a failure as a partner, in turn. 

But those moments, too, make for part of a good life, I think, in their own special way. I mean, it definitely makes me human. And it is part of this process to learn and grow. And I didn’t walk away from my relationship, and it’s not gonna happen this week, either. And maybe we don’t actually spend a whole half of my salary on ice, and on my good days I know that this situation won’t last forever. And even if our house is not the absolute most ideal place, it’s our home and I want to be here. And parenting is the hardest job ever and it’s okay to doubt yourself as long as you don’t let yourself be convinced that you really are a terrible parent when you’re doing the best that you can. Relationships are a constant work in progress, and we will keep working, and keep progressing, as a couple, as a family, as individuals who love each other and live together, in whatever ways we can manage, through the exhaustion and frustration and mood swings and tantrums. And I’m excited about it. Bring on the coming year! 31 is here! It won’t all be amazing, it won’t all be positive, and I sure won’t write about it all. But it’ll be my life, and my challenges, and my obstacles, and my joys, and my off-key voice, and my open, open heart and mind. And this time next year I’ll have to look back and laugh and love it. I can’t wait. 

With no lack of wishes for the coming year....

With no lack of wishes for the coming year…. good thing Conan got me those trick candles! I got to make lots of wishes! 

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