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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

This Summer, Just Remember That Your Kids Are Having Fun

Summer months can be a trying time in motherhood. For working mothers of school age children, it can be the scramble, and expense - of finding adequate child care while school is out. For stay at home mothers of littles, it can mean having to entertain your children during all waking hours, and kissing "me time" goodbye for up to 4 months.

And don't forget the struggles that unite us all - providing healthy food, chemical free magic sunscreen, hot-as-hades appropriate clothing and of course, "educational" activities with minimal "screen time" that will keep their young minds developing and not turning into youtube mush.

But here's the little secret - for all of our efforts, our successes - and our failures (please pass the No-AD spray this way), our children find this a magical time. Warm weather, sunshine, anything water related - you might as well be taking them to Disney World. Their faces light up when you take them to the McWane Center for the 100,000 time, because they get to pretend to be a fireman or play in a dinosaur excavation.

A hot day, a hose, and a bathing suit are enough to spend hours of fun, running and laughing until you beg them to towel off so you can go inside. (bonus if you have a baby pool you can stick your feet in while you sit and enjoy your entertainment win.)

They don't care that they had bologna again for lunch. They don't care that the sunscreen you bought was only medium on the list of "safe" this summer. They don't care that you've sneakily worked a weekly schedule into their summer routines (Monday - gym, tuesday - library, wednesday - McWane, ect...) And they certainly don't care that you even found a way to get rid of them for a while. HELLLOOOO VBS!

Every day is an adventure. A chance to be with friends or meet new ones. A chance to learn something new or get better. A chance to go out into their city and explore or stay at home and watch an entire movie (or three) with mom and sister.

Yes, they will get bored. Yes, they will complain. But that happens year round, right? So cut yourself some slack, because do you remember ever NOT being excited about summer? The season alone is enough. Everything you are doing is enough. So sit back, poor that sweet tea, and let the kids be kids.

Have a wonderful summer everyone!

Love,
Dominique


Monday, May 1, 2017

Please Don't Ask Me If I'm "Done."

Good afternoon!

Long time, no talk, huh? Turns out having two kids is pretty time consuming. Who knew?

Anyway, today I'm writing about a question that I, and I'm sure many of you - get asked all of the time. Family asks it. Friends ask it. Even strangers making polite conversation ask it. 

"So, do you think ya'll are done?"

Done having kids that is. Depending on the day, my answer varies. Some days I want to take the existing two that I already have and stick them back up from whence they came so I can eat a waffle by myself. Some days I think how lucky I am to have two healthy, beautiful girls and my life is pretty complete. And on rare days, I think, sure I guess I could do this again.

Let me put it straight for you. Yeah, I'm probably done. The best I can give you is a probably simply because I am a married, fertile young woman still within my childbearing years. 

The reasons I, personally, am "probably done" are the following:

-I have two beautiful kids that didn't get here easily and haven't been a cakewalk since
- No, I don't want a boy. I would love a boy if I had a boy. But I don't, and my family is still complete
- Yes, I loved having a big family to grow up in. I don't really want to raise one.
- The newborn stage is not my fave. I know it's short lived, but why repeat it if I didn't love it? Besides, I know lots of people having babies that I can snuggle on.

Here are the reasons I'm not going to give anyone a definite answer until menopause:

- I got pregnant both times pretty easily. Generally a tiny pill is the only thing between me and a baby
 - that being said, I always want to think of a "surprise" baby as a joy, and not something that was "not part of the plan."
- Plans and minds change. Situations change. I never had a number in my head of what my family would look like, and I still don't. 

So that is my incredibly complicated answer. Imagine the faces I see when I say all that to the lady at the library who was just making conversation. What can I say? My onion layers come off all at once. 

Thanks for listening, as always. I'll hopefully start writing more, and definitely more about the lighter side of child rearing. Have a wonderful Monday!

Love,
Dominique 


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Of Finding Faith in a Time I Need It Most

Good morning! Happy Thursday! Long time, no write. What can I say? I have two kids now and the most exhausting job I have ever had.

But today is not really about my kids. They're great, and fun, and crazy and trying to destroy me. That's the gist of it all.

Today I want to talk about probably my most vulnerable subject. Faith.To most of the people in my life, it's no secret that I'm not terribly religious. I pray, but I don't go to a church or feel even a connection most of the time. I pray because it's what my mom would tell me to do, and my mom is usually right about everything.

I can't really say I'm not a believer-I grew up in a church surrounded by friends and family who all shared common beliefs, and I really loved it all. As I grew up, I realized a big part of my love was for the tradition of it all. It's the reason I wanted it then, and it's the reason I still go to Christmas and Easter Mass. It's beautiful and comforting.

But I'm finding lately that I really wish I had more. I can't say that I want to return to Catholicism. There are areas of it that I just can't get on board with. I know that hurts people. I know that hurts my mom. And that kills me. But if we always did everything to please our parents forever, we would never really find out who we are, and I know more than anything my mom wants me to be who I am.

My mom is sick. Even now as I type this, I tear up thinking about that statement. Losing her would be a devastation that I'm not even close to prepared for. I've prayed, and I've asked for prayers. I figure that if I can't find that phone number to God, maybe others who are closer to Him can get there for me. I often think about trying harder - finding somewhere I belong, and letting other people take me under their wings.

How do I approach a group of people and say "I haven't been to church in years, I don't feel much about it, I'm confused about what I believe and I honestly don't want a reason to be angry with God if things don't work out in my life."

I know bad things happen to good people. My mom is the best person I know. Selfless to the core. I know that if she were to not survive this, people would come to me and tell me that she's in Heaven with our Savior, and no longer suffering, and I know those are meant to be comforting words. I want them to be comforting. But I guess I feel exactly like M'Lynn in Steel Magnolias. I guess I'm selfish and I'd rather her be here with me.

I don't know what's a good enough reason to explore my faith. Is my mom being sick a good enough reason? Is it like a (excuse the pun) "Hail Mary Pass" to God to help my mom get through this? It is bad if I just want the community, and the arms around me? I've never wanted to use people in my time of need. But what's the difference between using people and leaning on them? I need to lean, ya'll.

So if you're the praying type, please pray for me. And if you don't want to do that, then pray for my mom and the rest of my family. And if you're willing to let me lean with all of my selfish reasons, then please let me know.

I love you all and I appreciate it.

Love,
Dominique

Monday, June 13, 2016

How I Am Learning to Make Friends as a Struggling, Hot Mess of an Adult

Good morning!

It may not seem like it from my admittedly overwhelming social media presence, but I am actually a fairly shy person. I clam up in social situations around new people, always worried that my wack-a-do way of thinking, propensity for swearing, or lack of church involvement will screw me over in the new friends department.

But, I have also discovered since becoming a stay at home mom, that I am a fairly lonely person too. Turns out spending all day with two endlessly needy tiny humans can make me feel slightly isolated. And sure, I have my husband, who knows me better than anyone and provides some adult conversation, but he'll never really get it like my girlfriends do. Alas, men are from Mars and women are from Venus.

So I decided a while ago to try and do the impossible: I was going to open my heart, my house, and my best bota box of wine to new friends, with the hopes I could finally make my tribe. The process is slow going, but I am very hopeful. I've used my two best resources-Facebook, and my far more social friends who can introduce me to their "people." And so far, I've gained a few really great women. Women who don't try to act like parenting is magical all day every day. Women who cheers to the end of a long day. Women who share their lives with me, and invite me to their kid's birthday parties, and provide me with a much needed feeling of belonging. I hope if you all are reading this, you know who you are. And how much I thank you for that. And I also hope you know that I am desperately working on becoming one of you, the kind that will take the lonely mom under their wings and teach them a thing or two about belonging to a village.

I am prepping the playroom. I am investing in a swing set, and water toys, and play date spot memberships. I am making my home and my heart "mom group ready." Because I want you to feel as welcome with me as I do with you. I want to spend my time at home not just nurturing my children, but myself.

Because one day, we won't have this connection. Our children will be grown, and our interests will be different. But if I spend this time getting to know these new great women- really know them- then we won't need it. We will have hopefully planted the seed to a friendship that transcends the struggle of life with littles.

Happy Monday! Let's make this summer an amazing one!

Love,
Dominique

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

I've Definitely Lost My Kid in a Public Place

Good morning! Happy Wednesday!

You may have heard that people are all in a tizzy about this incident at the Cincinnati Zoo this past weekend. Here's the short of it - A 4 year old boy wandered away from his mom, and fell into a Gorilla enclosure, where a very large silverback gorilla approached him. Taking quick action, the zoo ultimately decided to the shoot the gorilla, and he was killed.  The boy was rescued, and is going to make a full recovery from his injuries.

Of course, the parenting police and the animal police decided this was going to be a great way to get on their soapbox about both why the gorilla was harmed, and what was the kid doing there in the first place? Wasn't she watching him? Call DHR! Call CPS! She's clearly unfit because her preschooler escaped her vision for what I can only guess was one minute, or the approximate time frame it takes for a preschooler to get into anything they aren't supposed to be doing.

Well you know what? I lost my kid in a public place for 20 minutes. Recently. No, it wasn't the zoo. Yes, it was enclosed with little chance for escape or harm. But I did lose her. For a good 20 minutes, I had NO IDEA what my 3 year was doing. She could have been abducted. She could have been doing crack in the corner with some terrible other preschool kids. But it was a crowded, kid ridden indoor playground with lots of noise and such going on, and I got distracted. And I lost her.

So all of you parents calling for an investigation into this mother, just remember - it could and probably will happen to you. Hopefully not with the same consequences, but one day, despite your very best effort, your child will wander away. You will feel the immediate panic of realizing you don't see them. You will go over a million scenarios in a split second of what could be happening. You will be talking yourself down as you say over and over "they're fine, they're fine, I'll find them."

Because the truth is, it doesn't matter how diligent we are as parents, We all screw up. We are humans, and we get distracted. The best you can hope for is that your kid isn't the next one on national news putting your "bad parenting" in the spotlight. Ease up.

The very best thing we can say as parents on this is "Thank God the child is ok." And say a prayer for the mother who is getting hate spit at her from all sides because she, like me, let her child out of her sight for one minute. And always remember that "Never assume anyone is watching your child but you." I remember my wise sister saying this to me at the beach last year as a I struggled between enjoying the sights and making sure my then 2 year old didn't get pulled under. I never forget it. And I still lost my kid in a crowded place.

I am an imperfect person, and sometimes sub-par parent. But we are all trying as best we can.

Love,
Dominique

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Agonizing Decisions We Have to Make for Our Kids

I made a phone call this morning. It took a quick google search, a couple of department transfers, and finally a direct question: "So you just want to cancel outright?"

Yes. Seems like nothing, right? However, this phone call was 2 months in the making, and countless hours of obsessing, agonizing, rationalizing, and researching. I cancelled Hazel's appointment Thursday with the neurology clinic to have her evaluated for a correcting helmet.

So my 6 month old developed a flat spot on the back of her head. And if you don't know this, then you don't know me, because it's all I've thought about for over 3 months. When our pediatrician referred us to the clinic, she told me I didn't have to go. She told me it could round out on it's own, and that it's only cosmetic, and that she's going to have a head full of hair, so she will likely never see it. Never-the-less, I kept the appointment when she was 4 months old. I picked up Violet early from school, we drove to Children's of Birmingham downtown (got hopelessly lost and was 15 minutes late for our appointment), waited THREE hours in a crowded waiting room, and spent 5 minutes with a doctor who told us he didn't want to see her again until 6 months, and to try re positioning her.

So we left. And from that day on, my daughter slept on her side. With a blanket to prop her if needed. She was never on her back while awake. She was either in my arms, on her tummy or being strapped to my chest. I did this tirelessly for 2 months, dreading every second that it got closer to our follow up appointment. I took pictures of her from every angle, analyzing them over and over. Was it getting rounder? Was her hair making it look flatter? Would she hate me forever if her head isn't perfect? It kept me up at night. If I was able to get to sleep quickly, I woke up at 4am and had to resist googling "People who chose not to use the helmet," or "toddlers with flat heads." I was a mess. I am a mess. I am a mom.

But after talking about it with literally anyone that would listen (my mom, my friends, my husband, my doctor, my mom Facebook group), I finally came to a decision. It wasn't worth it. It wasn't worth the time, and the cost, and the adjustment for something that could only make a marginal difference, or make her head a model of perfection. The big mystery is that I will never know unless we do it. It wasn't worth it to me.

But now I have to deal with the question of, "but would it have been worth it to her?" Of course she would never remember this time. Only pictures would prove it ever even happened to her. Will she resent me for having to make a decision for her before she could make them for herself? Well that's parenting in a nutshell, isn't it? Every day we're making choices that are going to affect other people. If you're a mom, more than likely you're making them for your children. Maybe they'll turn out for the best, and maybe they'll be mistakes. The only thing I can assure myself is that I put a lot of time and thought into this, and it wasn't a snap decision. And I can only hope it's the right decision and move on.

So she will not get the helmet. I will continue to work with her, and I will always think she is the most  beautiful creature on this earth (besides her sister). So whatever decisions you are having to make for your family today, know that I feel you. I know you're struggling. I know you're worried you're not doing well enough. But you are. Just caring that much means you are. And as long as they are loved, and cared for - nothing else will matter in the long run.

Happy Tuesday!

Love,
Dominique


Thursday, April 14, 2016

That Time My Second Baby Was Almost 6 Months Old Before I Blogged Again

Good afternoon! Happy Thursday! I love Thursdays, because Thursday is the day before Friday, and Friday is the day before Saturday, and Saturdays I have Chris home aaalll day to help me deal with these crazies.

So you may have heard I had a second baby. A bouncing 16 pounds of girly joy. Well, that's what she is now. When she was born she was slightly smaller. Buuut, that was 6 months ago. To say I've been busy is the understatement of the year.

Hazel came into this world in the almost exact same way as Violet did, albeit slightly less dramatic. As usual, my body followed my heart and was so over being pregnant by 36 weeks, so it started the process early. (Sound familiar?) By my 38 week appointment, we were ready, so I was admitted to the hospital. 8 hours, 2 Labor and Delivery nurses, an epidural, a lengthy conversation about Laguna Beach, and three pushes later, she was in my arms. 8lbs, 4 ounces of perfect squish.

Violet was immediately smitten. It could be because "the baby" gave her a present of an icecream play doh set on the first day of her life, or it could just be that she was pretty psyched to be a big sis. Personally I think it was a little bit of both. Fortunately, half a year in, she is still doting on her baby sister, and hugging her constantly. We are a lucky family. I can't get into everything that has been going on in the past 6 months, because I would be here forever and ever and ever. So, I will list some of the most valuable things I have learned in a half a year of parenting two tiny human beings:

1) You can, in fact, love your subsequent children as much as your first. It's a grinch effect - your heart just gets bigger and makes the room.

2) That being said, you will prefer one or the other at various times of the day. And that's ok. When Violet is crying hysterically because her shoe is on the wrong foot, and Hazel is cooing like an angel in her crib still, I make a silent prayer of thanks that Violet is going to school three days a week next year. And when Hazel is refusing her nap. again. and rubbing her eyes while I wonder "Whhhhhhhy? you're clearly SO tired." and Violet is doing her silly walks in the kitchen, all I want to do is put the baby down and join her.

3) Everyone told me that all of the newborn stuff would come back to me like riding a bike. I'm still waiting for that.

4) It's important to make an effort, but remember that no matter what you do - all kids are different and are going to respond differently. I think I did like, 10 minutes of tummy time with Violet a day, and yet she still turned out with a round head and sitting up on her own by 6 months. With Hazel, her flat spot may need intervention, and she's still wobbly - yet I barely let the back of her head touch anything. All this to say, it's not your fault.

5) There's poop everywhere. All the time. If it's not the baby, it's the toddler. If it's not the toddler or the baby, it's the dog, because you forgot to take her out while you were dealing with the baby and the toddler.

6) Getting both of your kids on the same nap schedule really is the holy grail of stay at home momhood. Lucky me, Violet stopped napping a year ago. So I get to just figure out what I can use to distract her with quiet time long enough to eat a meal or watch Modern Family on Hulu while the baby sleeps.

7) Nobody expects you to stay awake past 10pm. Bravo if you can even make it that late. The level of exhaustion that comes with two or more littles is beyond comprehension until you are living it.

8) You will eventually get into a good enough routine to get some semblance of a life back. You may even start blogging again. But don't get too comfortable, because babies are unpredictable at best. Just go with it, man.

9) I've never in my life had so much passion for a job. Yes, it's a privileged job, but it is hard work to stay at home with these two. However, I put my all into it, almost every day (yes, almost) and that's more than I can say for any paid profession I have ever had. I genuinely care about and believe in what I am doing. Which gives me the confidence and desire to find other projects outside of child rearing that can also ignite my passion.

10) Having two may mean less time for my husband, but it means way more appreciation for him. Since having Hazel, I feel like I've gotten closer to him than ever before, if only because I really really need him. For help, for sleep, for comic relief. For sanity. For food, because I still hate cooking. He's my partner in crime and parenthood, and I'm thankful for him every day.

There's more, of course. But I'll save that for another day. Thanks for listening, as always.

Love,
Dominique