Mom Jeans

My daughter and I went to pick up lunch today. As per the norm, I sported tennis shoes and mom jeans and my hair was pulled back. I know how I looked… like I’ve “let myself go”…

I wear tennis shoes ALOT. They may not be fashion forward, but they are comfortable and help my aching feet. Feet that ache because they’ve spent the bulk of the last four years pacing the floor trying to induce sleep, fetching water and snacks, catching little bodies about to fall, and chasing after little explorers in hot pursuit of anything (and everything) dangerous. Tennis shoes help.

I wear mom jeans. I swore I never would, but here I am – denim up to my belly button. They get the job done though. Truth be told: I lost my butt sometime during one of my pregnancies, and if it weren’t for my mom jeans, I’d be sporting a plumber’s crack daily. If I have to choose between mom butt and plumber’s crack, I’ll take mom butt.

I wear my hair pulled back almost everyday. The baby likes to grab handfuls of it as he’s pulling my face in for a kiss. Baby kisses are the best. They aren’t so much kisses though. In Cooper’s case it’s more akin to him trying to eat my face. It’s the best though, and no matter what kind of day I’m having those “kisses” make my heart feel as though it might just burst.

I am carrying at least thirty extra pounds these days. The number on the scale literally hurts my feelings, but it’s not all bad. My preschooler says I’m squishy… like a marshmallow. I’d like to lose the weight, but until I do, I’m going to enjoy the extra snuggles my “fluffiness” gets me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not above lamenting the loss of my pre-baby body and hair, I just much prefer the mom version of me to the former me. I don’t have the time I used to. I no longer have empty hours to spend shaving my legs, tweezing my brows, polishing my toes, filing my nails, and smoothing stray hairs… and you know what? I don’t lament those empty hours because they were just that: empty.

This mommy stuff is hard. It’s an oftentimes thankless job…and sometimes it makes me feel invisible…but it simultaneously gives me purpose. My kids are the best things about me, and I will gladly stand in their shadow for the rest of my days… so long as I get to stand there in tennis shoes and mom jeans.

I didn’t really let myself go. I just became a mom.

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Shame on me? No. Shame on her.

Today started quite nice: Coffee, fruit loops (don’t judge), and cartoons. Since we had no plans for the day I suggested to Rex that we spend the morning at the zoo.

Him: “I wanna go to da maaaaaaaaaalllllllll!!!!”
Me: “No mall today, buddy. We can go to the zoo though.”
Him: “humph.”
Me: “I will take that as a yes…”

Since we had a plan, I showered and got myself ready. This task took twice as long as it should have because Sydney kept managing to fall of the bed (where she and her brother sitting and watching a cartoon). It is plausible (and quite likely) that she was being pushed, but a certain three year old swore up and down that he did not, and a certain 20 month old lacks the language skills required to be an informant…

I then got the kids ready. By “get the kids ready” I mean I physically over powered Sydney in order to clothe her. Then she pooped so we did it all over again, but THIS TIME I had the added fun of getting her into a fresh diaper. Bonus points for me because I managed to do so without getting feces on my hands. Rex is at a fun age when it comes to clothes. By this I mean he has strong opinions about what he wears and these strong opinions NEVER reflect the current weather. Somehow I managed to bribe him into seasonally appropriate clothing. As soon as his clothes were on he was overcome by a strong urge to pee. Thankfully, I got him into the bathroom in time for him to make it to the toilet… not that he peed in that though… just near it.

Time for socks and shoes. This actually went quite swimmingly and I was encouraged. I got the kids strapped into their carseats and off we went.

Rex insisted on strapping his teddy bear in. Cute, right?

Rex insisted on strapping his teddy bear in. Cute, right?

Upon getting to the zoo I was informed that I needed a new membership card because the barcode on mine wasn’t working. This resulted in a decent wait at the member services counter. Naturally, this is when Sydney decided crying was in order, and naturally Rex determined this to be the ideal time to run off and do his own thing. Good stuff.

For those of you who don’t know, the wolf pups are now on exhibit at the MN Zoo. I insisted that we see them first. Silly mommy. I should have know that me insisting on anything would send our already “meh” outing into a complete tailspin. Rex started fussing. Sydney continued fussing. I continued walking. We made it to the wolf exhibit only to discover that my efforts were in complete vain. No pups to be seen.

Lunch time. Fairly uneventful despite the obligatory near choking incident and spilled milk.

After lunch we headed to the play area. Lots of laughs, whimpering, and chasing ensued. Of course they cried when we left, but that’s to be expected, right?

Like any good momma I said we could ride the carousel (which was quite a hike from where we were). Sydney refused to ride in the stroller… or walk… so I had to carry her. Rex also refused to walk so I pushed him in the stroller while carrying her. Fun.

While Rex is a huge fan of the carousel, he refuses to sit on the carousel animals so we usually sit on the benches. Not as fun, but still fun. When our turn was over a kind zoo volunteer gave Rex a free token for another ride. Would he thank her? Nope. Would he even smile in her direction? Not even a little. I thanked her profusely for him, and off we went to get in line for a second ride. This time he wanted to ride an animal! Sydney too.

Progress!

Progress!

Honestly, I was already exhausted so I decided it was time to go home. This is when the real crying started. His tears were for a pretzel, hers were in protest of the stroller. She screamed, “I waaaa ow!” (translation: I want out) while he tearfully lamented that he was STARVING! I was trying to keep it together. Really. I asked Sydney if she wanted to walk. “Uh huh,” she responded. I made the poor decision of believing her. As soon as her feet hit the ground she was wailing for me to “Ho her!” (Translation: hold her). Rex continued to cry for a pretzel while simultaneously insisting that I hold his hand. Sydney followed me scream crying all the while.

I refused to carry her...

I refused to carry her…

I was done… I had reached my threshold… At this point I determined I had three choices 1) Cry, 2) Scream, or 3) Laugh.

I laughed. I also turned around to snap a picture of my screaming Sydney (for prosperity of course).

A grandmother and her child were not far behind us. As they passed the grandmother gave me the most chilling, awful stare and muttered something under her breath. It was dripping with condescension and judgement.

I shame spiraled and sulked the rest of the way to the car. Rex fussed, and I caved and carried Sydney.

I was a bad mom. I lacked patience. Because they didn’t leave the zoo smiling, I could only reason that I had failed.

Thankfully, my shame spiral lasted only until I reached the car and my rational brain kicked in. That woman hadn’t seen all the moments leading up to that one. She didn’t know the culmination of things that brought me (and my daughter for that fact) to that point. Who was she to judge me? Perhaps my laughter did seem odd, but given the context it was really quite logical. Laugh, scream or cry. Those were my choices.

I was having a “moment” (as all parents do)… She was just being judgmental. Shame on her.

Sometimes I need a good, swift kick in the…

Butt… I was going to say butt.

I have been feeling especially overwhelmed for some time now, but this feeling of “overwhelm” has come into glaring focus as of late. I am always feeling like I am two steps behind and struggling far more often than I am functioning.

But…

What I realized today after having yet another mini meltdown [with witnesses] is this: I am looking at things all wrong…

I have PILES of laundry.

I have laundry that needs sorting; laundry that needs washing; laundry that needs drying; laundry that needs folding, and laundry that needs to be put away AND those piles mean that we have clean clothes to put on our bodies. Seriously, how lucky are we?!!!!!!  To see those piles as anything other than a blessing is shameful.

My house is strewn with toys.

This one really makes me want to kick my own ass butt. I HAVE KIDS!!!! TWO OF THEM!!! I didn’t think I was going to have kids. Enough said.

I have a graduate assignment due on Wednesday and I don’t even have my text books yet. 

I live in a country that doesn’t in any way restrict  or limit my access to education, and beyond that, I live in a country that will give me a loan so that I CAN pursue an advanced degree! I’m a lucky duck.

I have to go grocery shopping tomorrow.

Oh my. How unfortunate for me [please use a highly sarcastic tone while reading that]. Tomorrow I am going to drive my healthy self to a store to buy fruits and vegetables and all sorts of [mostly] nourishing foods for my family. For goodness sakes, there are people who don’t have clean water to drink!! [Self talk: “Self, you are a dumbass.”]

I need to clean house. 

I have a house… I have a home. Within that home I have a family. It’s not huge, it’s not perfect, but it is MORE than enough.

The grass needs to be cut. 

I have a yard…  beyond that, I am healthy and I can run and jump and play out there with my family (daily if I choose). It need not be said, but I am going to say it again: how lucky am I?

I am surrounded by blessings and opportunity. I have everything I need and MORE! Sometimes, like most of us, I need a good swift kick in the…

butt. I was going to say butt.

Today I kicked my own, and told myself this: burdens only exist when you fail to appreciate the gifts.

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I wasn’t going to skip pages…

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Incredible highs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before becoming “Mom” to my little Mr. and Miss, my pre-kid brain held thousands of “when I’m a mom…” ideals.

Just to name a few:

I was going to breast feed for one year. No more. No less.

I was NEVER going to yell… Curse? [GASP] Not me!!!!!

I would implement time-outs “by the book” and I would NOT give in. Mom is boss.

I would never, ever, ever skip pages of bedtime stories.

I would never ignore my child – I would listen whole-heartedly to every word spoken.

I would never be annoyed by them. Never.

Their father and I would never argue in front of them.

I would be a great mom!!!

Notice any trends? Yup – a whole lot of “I will never(s)”…

Truth be told:

I breast fed Rex for 10 weeks, gave up and bought formula. I nursed Sydney for 15 months and feared I would have to pump throughout her elementary years.

I yell… a lot… Sometimes I swear. It’s not easy to admit that.

Rex got time-outs in a consistent, systematic fashion… for awhile… Now I hardly follow through with them for either kid.

Bedtime stories? Every night :)… aaaaaand almost every night, I skip at least a few pages.

Sometimes I am convinced that if I hear the same question repeated ONE.MORE.TIME my head is going to spin and fall right off. It hasn’t yet, but I’m still not convinced that it won’t. I don’t “ignore” them per se, but sometimes I tune them out… that’s probably why my head hasn’t fallen off yet. Annoyed? Yeah, that happens a lot. I’m not proud of it.

Their Dad and I have arguments. You know why? Because marriage is hard and parenting is hard. Parenting+marriage sometimes seems impossible…

But, despite my failures, I do think I’m a good mom.

Let me explain…

I fed my babies when they needed to be fed. It didn’t matter whether it was formula or breast milk. They were nourished and they thrived.

I don’t yell all the time. Most of the time I speak calmly and quietly. When I do yell, I apologize. I take their little faces in my hands and I say, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled. I love you.” Thankfully, their little hearts are very forgiving.

I am trying my best to be consistent because I know they need and want boundaries. It’s a work in progress. I’m not above admitting that.

I read to them ALMOST every night. Sure I skip pages, but they don’t know that. They just know I snuggle them close and tell them stories.

I’m human and I have very human moments in which I behave badly. I have ignored them and I have been annoyed by them… but I am their BIGGEST.FAN.IN.THE.WHOLE.WIDE.WORLD. Truly. I love them with every ounce of my being. Without them, I would cease to exist.

Their father and I don’t have a perfect marriage, but we’re a family and we are trying.

Pre-kid, I had ideals and opinions about everything, and I was convinced that there was distinct “right way” and “wrong way” to do everything.

If I could go back and tell my pre-kid self anything, I would say: There is no “right way” and the only “wrong way” is thinking you are doing it “right.” You are going to have good days and bad days, incredible highs, and frightening lows. It is going to be harder than you can even imagine, but it’s completely and totally worth it and you are going to love it (most of the time).

Oh, one more thing… It would be wise to eliminate the word “never” from your vocabulary… 😉

If I was the type to give unsolicited advice to pregnant women in the baby aisle at Target…

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When I was pregnant, I heard this more than once: “Being a mom is the hardest job you will ever love.”

True words.

Here’s the other truth though (the one I didn’t hear while super pregnant and browsing the baby aisle at Target): No one is good at his/her job all the time.

To be perfectly blunt, sometimes I straight-up suck.

  • I have cried over spilled milk…
  • sighed heavily [and perhaps cursed] when awoken multiple times in the middle of the night…
  • I might have once [or twice…who’s counting?] thrown a stumbled-upon lego…
  • And I have certainly yelled.

Seriously, this is no easy gig. Loving them is easy, but “parenting” is not.

  • They can make the simplest of tasks ridiculously difficult and time consuming…
  • Create HUGE messes in alarmingly small amounts of time…
  • Pitch ENORMOUS fits for HUGE alarming amounts of time [tantrum dots anyone?]…
  • And sometimes there’s JUST NO PLEASING THEM.

I sound like I’m bitching, I know. I sound ungrateful, but I’m not. I’m just a mom.

  • Being thankful for the blessings that they most certainly and absolutely are does not endow me with infinite patience…
  • And just because I love them, does not make me perfectly calm and all-the-time level headed.

Conversely…

  • Just because I mess up, does not mean I take them for granted…
  • Bad moments days do not make me a bad mom…
  • And sometimes I suck because I’m all-the-time human.

If I was the type of person who gave unsolicited advice to pregnant women in the baby aisle at Target, I would probably say this: Being a parent is hard, and the rewards are great, but that doesn’t make it easy. Do your best, celebrate your successes and learn from your mistakes. You will make them. It is the hardest job you will ever love, and sometimes you will suck at it [that’s o.k.] because you are human. DON’T FORGET THAT YOU ARE HUMAN!

Pssst… And don’t forget that all the other moms and dads are too 😉

 

 

 

 

 

Laundry…commence “banging-head-against-wall”

Confession: I hate doing laundry. It is my Everest (and the piles in my house closely resemble it).

Ten truths about laundry [in our house]

1. When I strip beds for “linen day,” someone will inevitably pee through a diaper or throw up that night. “Wash when needed” is superior logic.

2. Sock baskets [by the door] work waaaaaay better than sock drawers [in a bedroom].

3. Dry clean only REALLY means either a) wear once and never again -OR- b) take my chances and machine wash on gentle. But, my best bet is to leave “dry clean only” items at the store, as they really have no business in my closet, let alone on my body.

4. “Line Dry” really means “lol – Tumble dry extra low”

5. White shirts and pants have no business in my children’s closet, let alone on their bodies.

6. Bibs are great when eating out or at someone else’s house, but “dinner in a diaper” is a superior choice when dining at home.

7. Dreft is a cute idea (laundry soap just for babies – how cute is that?), but most brands “Free and Clear” get the job done cheaper [and better].

8. The more clothes purchased: the greater the laundry pile… Less is more

9. If we have no plans to leave the house, changing out of pajamas is completely optional… and kind of silly.

And last but not least [and certainly the greatest truth in my house]

10. The laundry will never be finished. Ever.

Love Thy Neighbor

In my 31 years, I have experienced my share of “trials.” Since my 25th birthday alone, I have had 4 miscarriages, 2 c-sections with complications, thyroid problems, melanoma, and lost my job TWICE.

I learned a lot during those difficult times. Just to name a few…

1. Even when they don’t have anything nice to say, people still talk.

2. People love to hear bad news, but…

3. it ends there. They would much rather ignore your grief/problem than get personally involved in any way whatsoever

4. Self interest almost always trumps “doing the right thing”

5. People will downplay just about anything that isn’t happening to them

Last night our basement flooded. Well, part of it. Just the laundry room. In the grand scheme of things, it was small potatoes. I’m sure it will result in a decent bill, but it definitely wasn’t disastrous.

While I laid in bed, (not sleeping and jumping at every noise) I started thinking. I am sort of ashamed to say this… but, I have always been very dismissive about flooded basements. It certainly has never been my intention to be unsympathetic, but I always kind of figured “It’s a basement. They flood.” It wasn’t a lack of compassion. It was a lack of perspective. Ok, It was both. Since it wasn’t happening to me, I didn’t have much of an opinion…or reason to care.

Ignorance is was bliss.

When the water was rushing to every corner of the room, threatening to jump the threshold and enter the finished part of the basement, and I was surveying the impending, colossal damage, I kept thinking, “This is awful. Everything will be ruined. Cleaning this up will be a nightmare.” I then immediately felt many years worth of guilt for all the times I have dismissed “just a flooded basement.” Shame on me.

I am sure there has been a loooooong list of other things I have dismissed as well. I’m far from perfect.

Confession: While I have been very quick to judge people for their lack of empathy/compassion/kindness during various phases/periods in my life, I completely overlooked the times that I did THE.VERY.SAME.THING.

Ask yourself this. Have you ever made a statement ever that started with “It’s just…” -OR- made a statement along the lines of “It could be worse?”  (i.e. It’s just a miscarriage. Just skin cancer.) I certainly have. (i.e. It’s just a flooded basement).

Ignorance isn’t bliss. Ignorance is ignorance.

Last night was eye opening for me. I am glad our laundry room flooded because ignorance can very easily become a way of life if we never learn to see we are never shocked into seeing beyond our own noses.

em·pa·thy
the ability to understand and share the feelings of another

I used to think that empathy came ONLY from shared experiences. It really doesn’t need to. Really, all we need to do is “Love Thy Neighbor.” If it is a big deal to someone/anyone, it is a big deal. Period. We need to look beyond our own noses, see past our own front doors, and get out of our own damn heads.

We council kids to “worry about yourself,” but I think we have taken that to an extreme. Maybe If we spent less time worrying about ourselves, we could think about others and help others a little more. I don’t know. Maybe this is just a sleep deprived, caffeine fueled rant about nothing in particular, but I am changed woman after my little flooding fiasco last night. From now on, I am making empathy and kindness a greater priority.

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Words to live by, friends! 🙂