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!


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.


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!


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.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

I'll Have My Time With Her

Good afternoon! Happy Thursday! I was talking with my sister the other day on the phone about the difference between boy and girl babies, personality-wise. (As if either of us would know, because we don't make boys in our family.)

But being somewhat knowledgeable about how my friends kids compare and contrast to my own, I have a general idea of how each gender can sometimes relate differently to each parent. In my case, my daughter is a total daddy's girl. I feel like Julia on that show Parenthood (Side note: Do you watch Parenthood? We just started, and I have to say, I LOVE IT. I'm like, 6 episodes deep and I'm like "RELATE RELATE RELATE!")

Anyway, Julia Braverman is a working mom (semi-like me) who has a five year old daughter who she claims "openly prefers" her husband. Now granted, he's a stay at home dad, but I relate to it in the sense that she is kind of the business end of the parent spectrum, while he is more towards the fun. This is a relationship I am more than familiar with in my house. Since I am what modern folk would call the "primary caregiver" of our daughter and soon to be second daughter, I have to deal with more tantrums, more meals, more messes and more activities in general. Which can lead to more fussing, more whining, more time outs. When we get home and Chris is there, we usually don't have anywhere we have to be for the night, so our schedule is much more relaxed. Dinner to bedtime can range anywhere from 5:30-7 or 6:30 to 8:30, depending on how good of a mood Violet is in and how badly we need her to go to sleep already.

So we walk in the door, and immediately it's like I don't exist. "DADDY!!" She exclaims, and runs into his open arms. "Play with me, daddy! Let's go outside, daddy!" I should really note that this does not bother me. It's wonderful to not only have him there when we get home most days, but to see her so thrilled. The times that tend to hurt my feelings are the quiet ones, where she very verbally expresses her desire that I NOT do something for her if daddy can do it. Like read books or give her a bath. Mommy spends a good chunk of the day caring for her, and fixing her meals, and buying her clothes, pull ups, shoes, toys, whatever she needs at the moment. But Daddy hangs the moon, so if he's there, I'm chopped liver.

This used to really bug me. Almost like I was resentful at how ungrateful my two year old was when I focused so much of my time and thoughts and feelings and fear and worry and energy just. on. her. Which is so silly if you think about it. She has no clue that I'm doing those things, and I shouldn't expect her too, or in any case do them because I expect gratitude.

What's good is that I've really realized something over the past 6 months or so that has helped me get through this incessant "Daddy this, daddy that" phase. I'll have my time with her. I take comfort in thoughts of the future, when she's in college, and home for Christmas, and we pour a glass of wine together and sneak out to the porch to talk about this guy in her English comp class that is really cute. Or on her first day of high school, when she's nervous about what she's wearing or if she'll try out for any sports, or make any new friends. Or even earlier, when she's had her first really meaningful big fight with her sister, and I can tell her what it was like to grow up with three older sisters and how they've shaped me, and it does get better. Those are my times. My moments. Those are the times when a girl might need her mama.

So for now, it's a trade off. Mean mama and fun daddy might be something my husband and I identify with for a while. Especially when I'm not only home with her all day, but having to divide my time between her and her sister. And I have my sweet moments, where she wants to snuggle or lets me be the book reader or bath giver for the night. We'll always have our special relationship, and all I can do is continue on and hope to nurture it, so that she never feels like she can't turn to both of us for help or advice or comfort. And treasure this time when the only man in her life is her daddy, and he's doing a great job.

Have a good one, folks!


Monday, August 17, 2015

I Get Really Overwhelmed with the Concept of Post-Partum Perfection

I took a good, long look at my belly stretch marks this morning. Violet saw them not too long ago, and like all toddlers inevitably do, wanted to touch them and call them something appalling like "mommy's belly wrinkles." I didn't cry (turns out I'm slightly less prone to the waterworks this pregnancy), but I did let out a long sigh, and mentally punch myself in the face for doing absolutely nothing to prevent them the first time I was pregnant. Thus dooming to me a life of one piece swimsuits and belly shame.

And that's not all I didn't do. I didn't bother to get in shape at all. Besides the fact that I hate exercise, it seemed like an almost silly concept to me. I wasn't finished having kids. I wasn't going to kill myself fitting back into my pre-pregnancy jeans for a year and then throw it all away on another 9lb baby. Add to this one of those annoying husbands who tells me I'm beautiful no matter what and makes me believe it, and I was a lost cause.

But now the thought has crept into my head that this very well might be my last baby. I mean, never say never. But I am saying, "at least not any more for a while," if I can help it. Which leaves me with no excuses but to admit that if I don't make the effort this time around, I will have officially "let myself go."

But there's so much pressure, man. Sometimes I feel like today's moms are supposed to fit in a daily trip to the gym on top of breast-feeding, entertaining their multitude of kids (with educational toys and games, and NEVER, EVER TV), do the grocery shopping, the bulk of cleaning (if for no other reason then they can't stand the mess and their husbands are like mine and play "clean the house chicken" until someone folds, i.e. ME) go to church, go to mom groups, go to WORK for goodness sake.

And there's none of this walking on the treadmill anymore business. If you want to be a cool mom, you better be doing zumba, or barre classes, or crossfit. Or in some awesome jogging stroller group that meets at the park on Wednesdays and then takes the kids to chick-fil-a.

I am not a cool mom. I look like every bit the nerdy white girl I've always been doing zumba, and while I like the concept of barre classes, I simply can't afford them AND afford the chick-fil-a. And I don't really like chick-fil-a. Give me a big mac or give me nothing. And I like the treadmill. It's quiet, and solitary, and I can put my headphones in and watch cable for the first time in months when I'm sick of netflix with the fancy new ones with a TV.

Often times I wonder how I'm going to remember to shower and brush my teeth with two kids, much less make time to try and fit old clothes again. Right now I'm just trying to the best that I can with being pregnant. I take my vitamins, and my iron and fiber and thyroid meds every day. I drink as much water as I can stomach, and I sleep in a wretched left side position every night because it's allegedly best for the baby. I do alright. Even if I'm not rubbing coconut oil on my belly every night to prevent further "belly wrinkles" and I don't go swimming or walking every day as they recommend. I will say my toddler alone has made me significantly less sedentary this time around, so I am feeling a bit more energetic and also dead tired at the same time.

But if you see me on the treadmill, doing a "brisk walk," and crying because I'm watching Steel Magnolias on TBS for the 1 millionth time, know that this is actually part of my great effort to go back to somewhat resembling my former self. And if I never do, and chances are I never really will, (it's not a time machine, people), then at least I'll know that my body made two little human girls, and if it doesn't bounce back from that miracle, then so be it.

Plus my husband thinks I'm pretty.

Happy Monday, all!


Me, One hundred months pregnant with Violet 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

My Child Will NEVER Throw a Public Tantrum (Just One of the Lies We Tell Ourselves Before Having Kids)

I wasn't as ill-prepared as some to have a daughter. I was already 4 nieces deep when I got pregnant with Violet, and while having nieces is nothing like having your own kids, I knew enough to know that even the best of parents know the struggle can sometimes be all too real.

Some of you may have read about the Portland diner owner who made national headlines for screaming at a toddler in her diner because the child was being unruly. I'll be honest - I didn't read her side of the story, or even much of the story itself. I knew what the gist of it would be. Some people would praise her for her actions, and some would be appalled. Me? I was indifferent.

And why? Why, as a mother, would this not upset me to read about? Because I'm not surprised. We're all guilty of it. Judging other moms, telling ourselves that we can do better, that we WILL do better. That I won't let my child pick out a toy every time we go to the store because I don't want her to learn that she gets whatever she wants. My child will know what it means when I say no. My child will listen.

Cut to my 2 1/2-going-on-16 year old toddler girl, who hears the word "no" on a daily basis, and gets put in time out, and is forced to eat "just one more bite" before she's allowed anything sweet after dinner. I do all of these things. I try. I try to be a good example, and not give in, and teach her to say please and thank you and have some semblance of patience.

And you know what? She would have also been screaming her head off in that diner. And not because I'm letting her win every time, but because SHE'S TWO YEARS OLD.

You know what my daughter ate today so far? A cup full of Trix cereal, some orange slices, a fruit juice box, some torn up cheese and maybe one saltine cracker in it's entirety. That's two meals, people. And not because I didn't give her some turkey, or offer her a muffin, or try for another fruit. It was all there for her. But short of me shoving it down her toddler face myself, she wasn't having it.

She pitches fits in the grocery store and lays on the floor crying. She gets overtired in restaurants when she's off her schedule and throws her food. And sweet servers will ask me, "Is there anything I can do? Does she not like the food?" and I'll look at them like the angels they are, and say "Thank you, but the only problem we have here is that she's two years old." Those are the good times. Other times I will get the stares from people who think I'm letting my child run all over me. How can I not control her? Did I just order her CHOCOLATE MILK for her dinner? I must be young/single/or spoiled myself.

Here's the truth, people. All children behave badly at some point. Even on the days when they slept 12 hours, had a two hour nap, have recently eaten and are clean with a brand new toy in their hands. These are all merely stalling mechanisms. And let's be honest, how often does this perfect storm of toddler happiness REALLY happen?

Yes, it is very possible to be an above-average AWESOME parent, and have your kid be at total jerk to a stranger, in public, or even to you. Sometimes all three at the same time. They can't control their emotions as adults we learn to do. They feel what they feel, when they feel it. I often look at my daughter lying on the floor crying crocodile tears, and think "How GREAT would it feel if I could just allow myself to do that when I got angry, or hurt or sad? I envy you, kid." And then I throw her into the superman position while she kicks me and fly her out of the place quickly. Maybe I'll promise her something if she agrees to get in her car seat. Maybe I'll threaten. Maybe I'll sit in the parking lot for ten minutes just to let her have it out. No matter what, it will pass.

So let's all give a little grace, ok? And let's not make national news out of one person's outburst. All that will do is strengthen the debate, and feed the mommy wars. Meanwhile, real issues, like the deplorable maternity and paternity laws that exist in the US and NOWHERE else, are rarely circulated. But that's another issue for another day.

Happy Thursday, everyone! May your children have a happy day. And go to bed early.