Just Mom

Confession: Sometimes I think, “I can’t do this.”

I knew it [being mommy] was going to be hard; I just didn’t know what “hard” was. Some days it’s equivalent to getting kicked in the face with a golf shoe…

I follow a lot of “mommy” blogs and lately I have been overwhelmed by the number of posts focused on “empowering women” – posts about how to be more than just a mommy; how to keep the romance alive, nurture you spiritual self, do things YOU love, etc.

Good grief, I am having a hard enough time just keeping my kids alive! I don’t have time for “me time” or “date night”…

Isn’t “being mom” enough? Is my plate not yet quite full?…

Do you know what I am talking about? The suggestions to get mani/pedis, be your best you (code for go to the gym), sneak away for a romantic weekend, have lunch with “the girls,” etc.?

I just went from feeling overwhelmed to completely inadequate… As is if being mommy isn’t laden with enough guilt already? Now I feel like a failure because I don’t really know who I am anymore…

Wait a minute…I do know… I’m “mommy”…and that’s all I really have time for right now.

Forgive me, but in this season of my life – a season that is sure to be “gone before I know it” (as EVERYONE keeps reminding me) – I just want to be “mom.”

I want to wear stretchy pants and pull my hair in a ponytail and quietly accept the fact that I do not look like I want to, but that’s ok because my kids think I am beautiful, and their opinion is the only one that REALLY matters.

I want to lock the door to the bathroom and take a ridiculously long, hot shower and then I want to quietly accept that that 20 minutes is all the “me time” I am going to get this week.

I want to have conversations with my husband, but when I talk to him, I want to quietly accept and embrace the fact that the thing we have most in common right now is our kids… and THEY are enough. It’s ok if that’s all we talk about. For now, we can laugh about the funny thing Rex just said and marvel at the fact that our “baby” is now walking. I am sure a few years from now (when we are a little less bone tired), we will rekindle the romance. For now, our children are proof that what once was [romance], will be again ☺.

I would love to sneak away for a romantic weekend, but if it’s not in the budget or if we can’t find childcare, that’s o.k. Someday, when the kids are grown, we will have all the time in the world to travel and “get away.” I am sure when “someday” comes, we will talk about how much we wish we could “go back” and have a weekend like we did when the kids were small. Because, let’s face it, the grass is always greener.

At some point, all the stars will align and I will find an opportunity to get a pedicure and, by God, I will do so with a Starbucks in hand, but I am o.k. with the fact that said stars are unlikely to align anytime soon.

I’m going to stop resenting my husband for my lack of “me time.” He doesn’t get any either… We are parents. It comes with the territory and the sooner we realize that, the happier we will be in our current circumstances. There is beauty in these circumstances.

Like I said, I don’t think mani/pedis, being your best you (code for fit), sneaking away for a romantic weekend, or having lunch with “the girls” is in any way, shape, or form “not for mommy’s.” It’s not that I disagree with doing those things (AT ALL). It’s just that I don’t need another “expectation…” I don’t need to feel like when I don’t do those things, I am somehow less or incomplete. I think, when those things become expectations or entitlements, we lose sight of the beauty in being “mommy” (messy hair and baby bellies included). We need to be gentle with our often un-showered selves ☺.

I guess what I am trying to say is that “Just being mommy” is a short season. I don’t want to spend it trying to “find me,” and I don’t have to because Rex and Sydney already found me. When they were born, so was I. I am their mommy, and that’s enough…

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What I’d like you to know about Miscarriage

I was alone with my thoughts this afternoon while I was sweeping the floors and I got to thinking. Scary, I know. But I was thinking about pregnancy announcements, which got me to thinking about the social norms surrounding such announcements. Typically, people announce their pregnancy around the second trimester because that’s when it’s “safe” to tell…

I announced I was pregnant with Rex at 14 weeks…because it was “safe” to tell. I announced I was pregnant with Sydney when I was 10 weeks pregnant…because it was considered “pretty safe” to tell (that and I threw caution to the wind). What I have never “announced” is that I had 4 miscarriages before carrying to term with Rex and Sydney. I have never “announced” it because it didn’t feel “safe” to tell people I had a miscarriage, let alone four. Think about it. Doesn’t the phrase “it’s safe to tell” imply that, God forbid, you should experience a miscarriage prior to 14 weeks, it’s NOT safe to tell people?

Granted, miscarriage is a tough subject. It’s uncomfortable (grief is like that). It’s hard to have the right words, and it’s even harder to know what to do for the person experiencing the loss. But more than any of those things, miscarriage is sad. Devastating. Someone’s child died… You can pussy foot around it all you want, but that’s what happened. Someone was going to have a baby and then the baby died.

Someone once told me that grief is often measured by the size of the coffin. Sad, but true. There is also this “idea” that miscarriage is some kind of natural selection…that nature is weeding its own garden (so to speak). Even sadder. It was still someone’s child.

I guess my whole point is that, in my opinion, a person should be able to announce their pregnancy whenever and however they choose. If one wants to shout it from the rooftops at 4 weeks 1 day, they should! If another wants to quietly announce it to close family and friends at 20 weeks, they should! There should be no norm! And if either of these pregnancies should tragically end, it should be safe to share that news too. That should be the norm.

Grief is messy, but it shouldn’t be done behind closed doors.

For the sake of time (I can get long-winded), and because I like lists, here is what I’d like to share with you about miscarriage:

1. Please don’t ever say to someone who has had a miscarriage, “At least you know you can get pregnant” -or- “At least you have another child.”
2. Please don’t say, “the baby probably wouldn’t have been healthy.” That doesn’t make them miss the child any less.
3. Probably refrain from asking them when they are going to “try again.” If they want you to know, they will offer up that information.
4. It’s ok to talk about the baby. Acknowledging the baby won’t delay nor prolong the grieving process. In fact, talking about it may help.
5. Don’t expect them to “move on.” Forward, yes, but never on. It happened. No amount of time will change that.
6. Don’t expect them to be who they once were. They are forever changed. If you don’t like this “new” person, I suggest you move on. Some friendships and relationships can and should end. That’s a fact of life.
7. You can’t fix it, but you can be a good listener and a soft shoulder. They will likely return the favor someday when you need it.
8. It will get easier with time. GIVE them that. Don’t expect it to happen overnight. They will have good days and bad days. They may have a string of 100 good days…don’t be surprised on day 101 if they turn into a puddle.
9. Don’t just suggest they go to a support group. Find one and go with them.
10. If you are pregnant, please know that they are happy for you (if you can’t see it), they are just also really, really sad.
11. Sometimes Most of the time you don’t need to say or do anything. Just be there.
and last, but certainly not least
12. Miscarriage doesn’t need to be shouldn’t be a secret.

Accidentally on Purpose

It’s 5:15 AM… The littlest little is sleeping, albeit fitfully, next to me. Her leg is pressed up next to mine. As per the norm, she is making certain that a minimum of one part of her body is touching mine AT.ALL.TIMES. Seriously, I am quite certain that if she could crawl back into my uterus, she would. Most nights she rolls into my chest, tucks her little head under my chin and rests a hand on my face. It’s really very sweet. That said, I never thought I would fall into the co-sleeping camp. Why? I don’t know. It just wasn’t what I pictured in my head. So much of parenting is like that for me. I imagine things one way, and it ends up entirely different.

I make an effort to not make “I will always” and “I will never” statements, but I’m not above admitting that they roll around in my brain from time to time. When Rex was a baby, I attributed his mostly great sleep patterns to my awesome parenting. Then Sydney was born and I realized my successes in the child/sleep department had really very little to do with me and waaaaay more to do with my children. (Sydney’s little leg is now draped across my arm as I am typing this on my iPad. She seriously can’t get close enough.)

What I have realized in my parenting journey thus far is this: I am whatever kind of parent my child needs me to be. My choices are rarely “first choices,” and I oftentimes feel myself compelled to justify or validate them because, let’s face it, that’s the nature of our overly competitive, there’s-a-right-way-to-do-everything society.

Here is a list of my most recent “not first” choices…just to name a few…

1. Co-sleeping
2. Too much screen time
3. Less than stellar food choices
4. Breast feeding beyond the first year

Trust me, I’ve heard it all. “You’ve got to get that baby out of your bed!” “You let them eat that? Tsk tsk.” “You still breastfeed? Gross.”

But this is where I’m at…

Sleep deprivation isn’t good for anyone so we became a co-sleeping family. We sleep. That’s all that matters.

Coffee is better hot so Rex plays on the iPad for a little bit (ok, A LOT) in the morning. Coffee makes me a decent person. Hot coffee makes me a better person.

Sydeny doesn’t have a tremendous appetite and at one point actually met the criteria for failure to thrive. At times we are desperate to get her to eat something anything, and at those times she gets fruit snacks alongside her breakfast. She’ll turn out fine.

We were blessed with a fussy baby who refused to take a bottle (ever) and can only be nursed to sleep. 15 months later and, yes, I’m still nursing. Not what I imagined my life would look like more than a year after her birth, but there are worse things.

It wasn’t my intention to be “that parent” who allows a sometimes ridiculous amount of screen time or to become a co-sleeping, nursing mother to an almost 15 month old, but that’s where I’m at… life requires flexibility, and (even more importantly) adaptability. I am who I am because I make choices given the options placed before me…accidentally on purpose…which [gasp] makes my choices intentional. Sometimes that’s a hard pill to swallow.

My point is this: be intentional, and don’t apologize for it. There will, inevitably, be people who disagree with you. But be whoever you need to be at THIS moment anyway. Be authentic. It may sound cliche, but it’s the simple truth: If you are doing your best, that’s all that matters.

We co-sleep. So what.

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Instilling Responsibility and Pride

It’s hard to believe that Rex’s third birthday is fast approaching. I swear, I blinked and he transformed from a tiny (well, not really tiny… 8# 15 ounce) newborn into a walking, talking, opinionated, silly, loving little kid. I am in awe of that little kid.

While I am completely grateful for the great privilege that is watching him grow, learn and become who he is supposed to be, I am simultaneously humbled and overwhelmed by the great responsibility that comes with being his parent. After all, It is my job to nurture his mind, body and spirit so that he CAN become who he is supposed to be.

What I already know is that I cannot protect him from everything and he will not always abide by my rules or heed my warnings.

Those three things are guaranteed. But, out of respect for him, I can…

1) give him a sense of responsibility and
2) instill in him a sense of pride

“If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.” ~Abigail Van Buren

To that end…

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We hung coat hooks at his level and placed a basket below for other outdoor essentials. It is his responsibility to hang up his coat and put away his gear because they are his. It would be a disservice to do something for him that he can do for himself.

And I have started allowing him to slice his own apples (with supervision). I cut the apple in slices, and he then cores them with the slicer. The pride that shines through his toothy grin while enjoying a self-prepared snack makes my heart sing.

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After all, in the words of Frank A. Clark…

“The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.”

Why Money Can’t Buy Happiness

We live in a society driven by consumerism… Work, buy, sleep, repeat. It’s an easy trap to fall into. Especially, with the volume of “look at my new ______” posts inundating our news feeds.

I am guilty of it. I covet what others possess, make lists of what I want, and take inventory of what I have because, somewhere along the way, I became convinced there was direct correlation between my worth and my “stuff.” Sound familiar?

However, something “clicked” when I hit 31… I don’t have anything to prove, and I’m done buying into the lies pedaled by media, malls, and big box stores…

The Lies

1. Cars reflect your status in this life
2. clothes, hair, and make-up make you beautiful
3. Money buys happiness

It may have taken me 31 years to get my head on straight, but now that it is, I want to share what I have learned (mostly the hard way).

The Truth

1. Cars aren’t even necessary; they are just a means to an end: Point A to point B. No one cares what you drive… and if they do, the problem lies with them.

2. Trends do not make you beautiful. They makes you someone else’s version of beautiful. Truly, the most attractive thing you can wear is a smile.

3. Money cannot buy you happiness. Happiness isn’t a thing – it’s a perspective.

When I realized the days were slipping by and I was only half-heartedly present in them, I realized the problem was mostly in my own head, and therefore change was within reach…

1. I stopped comparing myself to others. The competition existed only in my mind, and abruptly ceased to exist once I stopped participating.

2. I stopped taking my home too seriously. I take care of what I have, but I don’t take better care of my house than I take care of myself or my relationships.

3. When I feel good, I think I look good; So, I dress to feel good.

We live in a society that applauds consumption and pedals products, but even so, we don’t have to “buy in.” I, for one, am opting out. You?

5 Simple Fixes for Kitchen Clutter

1. Designate a drop spot near the entry you use most so that your mail, keys, purse and wallet don’t end up on the kitchen counter or table.

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2. Mount hooks for your keys.

3. Your gadgets are likely to end up wherever the chargers are so avoid charging your electronics using kitchen outlets. I have found that one cell phone charging on the counter is HIGLY likely to attract other what-nots like keys and lip balm. We keep our chargers near the computer.

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4. Avoid decorative objects on your counters and center pieces on your table. Clutter attracts clutter. If you start with a clean surface, misplaced items are more likely to be noticed and, consequently, put away. Same goes for canisters – try moving them to a cupboard or pantry instead.

And last, but CERTAINLY not least…

5. Resist the urge to create a junk drawer. If you already have one, purge it and find homes (outside the kitchen) for all that “junk.”

There you have it – 5 simple fixes for kitchen clutter. Easy peasy.

A Type A Housewife’s Thoughts on Cleaning

Confession: at the moment, my home does not [gasp] qualify as clean… there is a fine layer of dust on the furniture, crumbs and paw prints on the floor, smudges and spit from barking dogs and curious children on the windows, and our bathroom fixtures are far from shiny.

Yep, this confession straight front the mouth of the woman who once blogged an elaborate cleaning schedule…

A post that curiously went missing about a month ago…

For good reason…

There exists a very fine line between taking care of what God has given you, and “worshipping” what God has given you with windex and furniture polish…

I realized I was taking my home too seriously, and that I was spending more time cleaning up after my family than I was spending with them. I was suffering from the delusion that in order to be proud of my home, it had to be perfect. Then I realized “perfect” does not exist. Shocking, I know.

The great thing about realizations like these is that, while they are humbling, they also motivate change… good change.

A Type A Housewife’s thoughts on cleaning (believe it or not)

A clean home is…
1. Tidy, but not fussy
2. cared for, but not obsessed over

Because you should never…
1. take better care of your home than you do yourself (or your relationships)
2. spend more time on your knees scrubbing floors than you do praying on them
3. invest more time in picking up toys than you do playing with your children

When in doubt, just remember…
A little dirt never killed anyone… something that I have to remind myself of from time to time.