Valentine’s Day Brownies + Life.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner…well actually, it’s still a bit of a ways away, but somehow I’m on top of things and made these Vday treats ahead of time. And I tell you, being on top of things is a few and far between experience these days.
Just recently I feel I’m consistently able (even if ‘consistently’ just means once a week) having a moment where I feel I’m on the offense instead of the defense. For instance, I’ll have Jo’s lunch ready before she’s wakes up needing it, instead of having to react and scramble to throw a lunch together (aka be on the defense) while she’s crying and ready to eat. It’s exhausting to always be on the defense, but now that her sleep is so much more consistent and she can entertain herself for a 20 minute stretch or so, I have a chance from time to time to get ahead.
So much of motherhood has gotten easier now that Jo is over a year old. There are so many days now I’m like, “man. motherhood was actually magical and rewarding today for several hours. this is amazing.” The first year was so hard though. As detailed in posts. I remember in high school where there would be the kids who took the math that was the year ahead of the math they should take so they could get ahead for college (like they’d take calculus as a junior instead of a senior) and they’d complain and complain about how hard it was, but then when you got into that class the next year, sure maybe it wasn’t always easy but it wasn’t that bad and you got through. I thought that the first year of motherhood would be like that, challenging but not as tough as people said. But it was harder than I ever imagined and I found myself constantly wondering how does everyone do this?! How do new parents get through this?! I don’t feel like I’m a very dramatic person (irrational at times, but not dramatic), and besides stopping running and letting my body gain the weight it needed to and not doing anything to change it, that first year with baby is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Every time I see a mom enjoying those early days I feel like I’m a bad mom for being terrified even when just reflecting on those early days. There were definitely wonderful moments in-spite of the sleep deprived blur it all was. I often see mom’s post about “how is my baby x old? Stop growing!” And I never felt that with Jo. I was like please keep growing up little baby I don’t know how we’re going to make it out of this otherwise! I realize everyone just has a different experience based on who they are and everyone has a different baby with a different temperament and different abilities to sleep and ride in a car seat without hating it and screaming at the top of their lungs. One time when Jo was around 4 or 5 months old she screamed for the entire two hours on a car ride when I was driving us someplace we were committed to going. That is not an exaggeration. I stopped once to feed her, hoping it would help and it did nothing. Every 15 minutes I was like “there is no way she can scream for another 15 minutes.” Wrong. She could. After I got out of the car I had never felt more inadequate and ill-equipped to be a mom than I did then or like my nervous system was more on fire.
I think maybe I’m just not a baby person. Or maybe it was the adjustment of going from zero to one child that was so overwhelming. I knew motherhood would be a sacrifice, but I don’t think I could really grasp it until I experienced it. Not knowing what you are doing and trying to pretend like you do is exhausting, which is what I felt like most of the 1st year. And I wonder if it’ll be any different with future children. I’m sure in some ways it will and in some ways it won’t. When I’m struggling, I’ve found the most helpful advice from others begins and ends with (A TON OF EMPATHY) and a “I’m not sure how to make that better but you’re doing a great job” with maybe a nugget of a recommendation concerning whatever it is I’m struggling with smooshed in there…because sometimes I don’t think there are easy answers and recommendations of “just do x” always left me feeling like if I just try x and x and x enough then it’ll be better and this will be fixed and she won’t cry. I think that’s a dangerous message for new moms wanting the best for their babies (as everyone does). Sometimes it’s just hard and there’s not a way to fix it. But we made it through and now I have an almost 15 month old who I adore, even if some moments still leave me crying from a lack of things going smoothly.
I think there are many things that have died in me (things that needed to become less important to me anyways) that have allowed me to relax into being a mom more and more. I’m switching offices in March and even just the rent being less than half what I’m currently paying for office rent is a way to relax into motherhood and not feel I have a large overhead weighing on me.
I spent some time being frustrated that I wasn’t one of those women who felt the only thing they want to do is to be a mom. I figured then I would be joyful. Then this would be easier. But I don’t think that’s true – whether motherhood feels natural to you or it doesn’t, I don’t think either comes with no sacrifice and struggle.
I feel like I’m still trying to figure out my new workflow. I was telling Andrew that I think I stopped blogging for a bit (among other reasons) because I thought then maybe I wouldn’t have to have this conflict inside of me around Jo needing me but me feeling frustrated and wanting to get work done. But all that did was leave me feeling unfulfilled and feeling like I had nothing of my own to stimulate my brain in adult necessary ways or to help me feel creative. One can only take so many bubble baths and do so many facemasks lol before they need stimulation in another way – spiritual, creatively, hobby-wise, etc. I feel like I’m finally caught up on sleep again (after the 9 months of so little sleep), so some nights after Jo and Andrew are asleep I can stay up and jot down some thoughts to share and that is nice time. My best friend and I joke that now we get why our moms always stayed up so late at night. It’s nice to have time when no one needs anything.
The last 3 months with less frequent posting haven’t really been a great 3 months for us. There’s just so much adjusting. And for a bit I didn’t need any more opinions coming my way about what we were doing with our life and just needed some quiet. This blog is no fun for me to write if it loses the real and vulnerable side and for a bit I just needed a break because it wasn’t the right time to share.
My best friend mentioned the other day that it’s hard to be pulled in so many roles. As in it’s hard to figure out how to be daughter Kylie and mother Kylie and wife Kylie and working Kylie and friend Kylie, especially when 2 or more of these roles overlap at one time. I’m sure there’s another way to think about this that is more cohesive to being one constantly evolving person, but when she said it I was like yep and it was helpful to have someone explain it like that. I’m doing this bible study lately and I’ll be posting separately about it because it’s been really great and helpful in many ways.
So where does this all leave me? I have no earthly idea. But I’m here today with a post! I have a long list of blog post topics on faith, identity, disordered eating recovery and life things jotted down. And one day, when my mind has mulled them over enough and motivation + time + energy levels align, they will get written!
But for now, I squeezed in a photoshoot for these Valentine’s Day snacks while Andrew was on Jojo duty and I’m happy to be sharing them. Most recipes I’ve been following these days are less specific measurements and more here’s-an-idea-and-the-recipe-doesn’t-really-require-specific-measurements-to-come-out-great kinda dishes. So this here is one of those types of recipes. If you’re looking for a Valentine’s snack idea, it’s a great one!
And now it’s midnight and Netflix is asking me if I’m still watching and Jo just woke up crying a bit and I’m not sure why because that doesn’t happen too much anymore, but hopefully I’m off to bed.
Valentine's Day Brownies
Yield: depends on how large of a pan your boxed brownie mix makes
favorite boxed brownie mix (+ ingredients to make it)
white chocolate, melted
heart cookie cutter
white chocolate cream cheese frosting
4oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
frozen cherries, slightly thawed (optional, but I wanted to add a cherry flavor and a red tint)
Make your brownies. While baking, lay out your pretzel sticks on a silpat (or another non-stick surface) and scoop your melted chocolate into a plastic bag or icing piper. Draw one end of the arrow on each end of the pretzel stick. Allow white chocolate to harden.
Take out brownies and allow to cool a bit. Use your cookie cutter to cut out heart-shaped brownies.
Make your icing by using an electric mixer to mix together cream cheese, butter and slightly thawed cherries. Mix with the cherries just long enough to add in some red color, then pick out the large cherry chunks and discard (I used 8 cherries), then continue mixing until smooth. Mix in melted white chocolate and vanilla. Mix in powdered sugar and whip until smooth. Spread over brownie hearts + stick in pretzel arrows. Voila! Valentine's brownies!