More Than ‘Mom’

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Being a Mom is simultaneously the best and most heartbreaking thing
I’ve ever done. The best because I have loved harder in the last five
years than I have my entire life. Heartbreaking because it makes me
more vulnerable than I’ve ever been (and because I’ve touched more
poop than I ever had). Before kids I thought breakups, and friend
fights, and losing a job was hard. After having a child I saw the
bigger picture. From the little things like schooling and if they were
hitting their milestones soon enough to the bigger worries and
heartbreaks like SIDS and childhood cancer, one thing was clear. I
wasn’t fully prepared for the love and anxiety that came with having
kids and I had no idea how absolutely consuming parenthood actually
was.

I realized, of course, that becoming a Mom would be life changing. I
knew that my life would be different. I had no idea, however, that
once one has children, ones life can seem to fall into a prewritten
supporting actress category. I didn’t realize that as a Mom I would be
bombarded with media telling me what I should like now (for the record
that’s wine, yoga pants, and weird wraps that supposedly suck your fat
out). I didn’t hear what the wise women were saying when they talked
about how as Mom’s we still had to take time for ourselves. It’s not
about getting a break from the kids, its about staying in touch with
who we are. When my kids were newborn I was, as we all are, consumed
with simply keeping them dry and fed. As they grow there are small
moments of down time appearing that could be used for whatever I like.
But who am I if I’m not being a Mom? Isn’t it selfish of me to want to
do things just for me when I can’t even seem to do all the things I
want to with them?

The most common anxiety for a mother is probably that she’s not enough
for her kids. Doesn’t spend enough time with them. Doesn’t play enough
with them. Doesn’t do enough crafts with them. Doesn’t tell them
enough how special they are. We spend so much time trying to stifle
this anxiety that at the end of the day we sit exhausted on the couch
thinking of all the things we could be doing.  Things like reading
that book you picked up 3 years ago, making food that isn’t cut into
bite sizes, maybe spending some time in bed with your spouse NOT
sleeping (wink-wink). Instead we take a pass and go to sleep because
we know we need the energy to do it all again tomorrow.

I’m not sure when all this mom guilt started. Probably around the time
we collectively started overthinking everything. We have a ton of
information available now giving us studies and stats on everything
from the best colors to expose newborns to how messed up kids will be
if they don’t have family dinners. There is absolutely no way to do
everything “they” say is good for your child. At some point we have to
decide that love and instinct count for something and that we ARE
doing a good job because we’re doing the best we can. That needs to
include doing the best we can for ourselves. Between work and taking
care of a home and kids we forget to take care of the person that is
holding it all together.

I am  writing today to renounce the idea that self love and
preservation as a mother is somehow selfish. Everyone will benefit
from you putting yourself first. Your kids will see that your time and
interests are as important as theirs. Your spouse will see you do the
things that drew you together in the first place. Your parenting will
be complimented by the happiness that all the things you love brings
to it. So start that garage rock band, join a political campaign, do
that art project you’ve been putting off. Take a night course. Go on a
solo vacation. Say “Yes!” to that thing in the back of your mind
whispering “I wish I could…” instead of answering with a “I can’t
because I have kids.”

It’s time to get rid of the notion that we don’t deserve “me time”
because we haven’t lived up to the expectations of some make believe
Good Parenting Checklist. It’s time to make yourself a priority
because everyone around you already thinks that you are. You are a
great Mom because you are a great person. Not the other way around.

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The Top 5 Places I Whip It Out

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You ever long for the good ol days? I think once in a while we all do. Children playing unattended in the neighborhood with their friends, no internet to distract you from your housework, high on socially acceptable Valium while drinking martini’s. Ahhh the good life.

I think if I was transported back in time though, I’d quickly become bored. There are so many situations in which I whip out my smartphone to make it more bearable. Now I’m down with no phones at the dinner table or when you’re hanging out with someone and can have an actual conversation without typing it. It’s also nice to just put the phone down and be present with the kids now and then, right? Sometimes I need an escape though and my smartphone comes in handy.

1) Breastfeeding Marathons: Thank the good Holy Banana for Netflix. There’s only so much quiet bonding I can do. If I have to feed someone every 1.5-2 hours I might as well take advantage of sitting down and binge watch Netflix’s latest crack series while doing so.

2) Public Restrooms: These are awkward places. We all have to use them at one time or another but most of us prefer when nobody is in the stall next to us. I like to browse Facebook while in there. It takes your mind off of how weird it is to use the bathroom a foot away from another person doing the same. (I do realize that you’re now going to possibly feel weird when you see me on Facebook because you’re wondering if I’m in the bathroom. I can live with that.)

3) Waiting Rooms: Waiting rooms freak me out. Especially hospital or clinic ones. We’re all there because we need to see the doctor for some ailment or another and I’m wondering if I talk to someone if I’m going to catch their sick on top of whatever sick I have. Plus I have a bit of social anxiety. So I browse things on my phone and make polite eye and a smile now and then. If I have the kids with me then it can be a savior for child-boredom. ABC Mouse ya’ll. It’s educational so minimal mom- guilt.

4) Bathtime: I have perfected the Mom Shower. In/out and wash/rinsed in about 5 minutes or less. My kids however, like to wallow. Usually they have bathtime when its not close enough to bedtime to put them down, but late enough in the day that I’m OVER.IT. So I sit on the floor close enough save anyone from drowning and mindlessly scroll while they act like they’re in a pool on Spring Break and have never seen water before. Its almost like I’m having “me” time.

5) In Bed: When you’re tired after a day of Momming, there’s nothing nicer than finally getting in bed and knowing you don’t have to do anything. Then, you grab the phone because you don’t want to just go to sleep at 8pm like a baby cause you’re an adult now and the evenings are time to do adulty things. So you check social media and chat a bit on Facebook and watch a few Youtube videos and zzzZZZ. Better than Ambien.

So the inevitable question is…
Where do YOU whip it out?!

The Big Box Mom’s Club

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We all love a good big box store. Be it Walmart, Target or Costco you have those aisles memorized and know exactly where to go to get what you want. You can find pretty much anything you need in one store, and even more stuff that you don’t. These shopping giants are highly appreciated and frequented by Moms who know the appeal of not having to usher kids in and out of multiple stores. On any given visit you’re sure to find:

The Solo Mom: She did it. She broke free for the highly coveted sacred hour of shopping sans kids.  You can tell she’s a Mom by the look of pure exhilaration on her face and and the way she keeps turning her head suddenly as if looking for a missing kid. Her cart is filled with necessities she forgets on most other trips because of whining to visit the toy aisles and a couple guilt-gifts for the kids to make up for being left at home.

The Birthday Party Mom: It’s 15 minutes before a birthday party for which she found a crumpled invite an hour ago in her kids backpack. Standing in the toy aisle with a frantic look in her eyes she scans the birthday boy’s Mom’s Facebook for any hints of toy obsessions the kid might have. A look of “screw it” flashes across her face as she grabs playdough and a a coloring book and beelines it to the gift wrapping aisle. Her child marches complacently beside her with a look of fear in his eyes and “If you make one wrong move in here you’re not going” and “I can’t believe you knew about this for 2 weeks” ringing in his ears.

The Social Butterfly Mom: This mom came for toilet paper but stayed for the party. She knows someone in every aisle and stops to talk to each and every one of them. This is her only adult interaction for the week and she’s going to make the most of it. The kids graze on food samples and play with toys she’ll later put back on the shelf while Mom tells the story about her sisters-husband’s-cousins divorce for the 4th time to the lady that works at the post office.  4 hours later at home, she realizes they’re still out of toilet paper and there’s $50 of small items the kids stashed in the diaper bag that she accidentally stole.

The Ultimate Sale Shopper Mom: She hits the discount racks HARD. There’s no way she’s fitting herself and 2 kids into that tiny-ass fitting room. If that medium doesn’t fit her 5 year old it’ll fit the baby in 4 years. When she finds something for herself she tries it on over her clothes standing in the aisle while giving side-eye to anyone who glances her way. There is a palatable “This one is MINE” vibe in the air. This mom is the one who holds up the line while the cashier has to price check half her stuff because “The Sign Said…”. Your aggravation gives way to awe when she walks out of the store with $400 worth of stuff for $75.

The Essentials Mom: She has the best intentions of a quick one-stop-shop. She marches through the aisles with determination and fresh-out-of-school children on short legs struggling to keep up behind her. Her list includes dinner ingredients and Popsicle sticks for a school project due tomorrow that she just heard about. “I just came in for 3 things!” you can hear her whisper in bewilderment, as she wheels an overflowing cart out the door.

The Unicorn To-Do List

The Unicorn To-Do List

There is a list of things, floating aimlessly in my head, that are just never going to happen. This list of “to-do” is about as mythical as a unicorn in the fact that it seems plausible, possible, but will never exist except in my imagination.  I’d need a fairy god-mother to accomplish all of this and they tell me those are mythical too. So is it not destined to be? Or should I keep on my magical quest to…

Do ALL The Laundry: Every single piece, folded and sorted into each person respective drawer.

Not. Gonna. Happen. By the time I give up for the day there’s still that weird stuff on the bottom of the laundry room floor like Elsa Costumes and baby bathing suits and then there’s the off season stuff that wasn’t as high on the priority list as underwear. Plus if you do get close to that shiny golden last load, your child will then decide to play dress up AND Spaghetti Restaurant at the same time. Boom! You’re back up to 3 loads.

Have the Whole House Clean & Tidy: All rooms, including the Laundry room. (You can see how this is failing already.)

This is probably possible if you do not have children. Or a husband. If you do, than you probably know no matter how clean and tidy it looks to guests, there’s one room upstairs with the door shut that you delegated the “clutter” room soon before every one arrived. You had the best intentions but by the time you got the kitchen cleaned the living room had took on all the new toys the kids found when you cleaned their rooms…and so you just scoop that shit into a laundry basket and hope nobody opens your bedroom door when they go to the bathroom. (Sidenote: Why do we worry about this? Who are we inviting over that snoops behind closed doors? Medicine cabinet maaaybee…but opening doors?)

Finishing My Book: I really want to read this trilogy before the movies become classics.

Yeah.freaking.right. Look, I have 2 kids and I KNOW they reach an age where they are a bit more independent and don’t rely on your for every single thing. For me, 0-2 has never been that age. There is so much crap going on in my head just trying to keep Kid 1 from maiming Kid 2 and Kid 2 from maiming herself (we’ve hit the biting and climbing stages at the same time, how’s that for fun?) that I’m lucky to read a few blog posts over the span of a day. They do finally go to bed but I’m so exhausted from Maim-Watch 2015 that I don’t want to use my brain for anything other than eating something without sharing or watching Netflix on my phone while lying in bed.

Freezer Meals: Life would be so much easier if I could just grab something and throw it in the crockpot every afternoon.

Wouldn’t it though?! This would require the chopping and preparing of many things, bagging it, labeling, and placing them all in the freezer. It all seems easy enough in a Pinterest Pin but I can’t tell you the last time I didn’t forget something at the store. I’d get started and need another ingredient (or 10). Plus the kids would surely need to eat at the exact moment they see/smell I’m making these meals and wouldn’t get that they’re not for today. “Really Mom? You’re cooking food and we can’t have any of it? We’re hungry today, not tomorrow.” So then I’d be making a regular meal along with the freezer meal. Also I’d eat half of everything before it even reached the bag.

So many Unicorns, so little time. What is on your Unicorn To-Do list?

8 Things To Start Doing Once The Kids Move Out

I love being a Mom. It is both the biggest joy and stress in my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There is however, this whole gaping area after all the “parenting” is done to think about. What will I do with all that time? I guess it’ll go a little something like this:

Have a clean house for more than 2 hours in a row.

Text them embarrassing Drunk-Mom pictures from vacations and pool days while they’re dealing with their own tiny minions.

Take a nice long shower. Alone. Without anyone asking “Are you done yet?”

Acquire one of these signs for when they’re bringing a significant other over to meet the parents for the first time.

Cook something delicious and decadent and not share any of it.

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Babysit their children and as a Grandma let them do all the things to which I told them “No” when they were children.

Always have to “stop by” the lingerie stores when we are shopping together to “pick up something for your father”. 

Sleep in till at least 9AM (or until they call and wake me to ask to borrow money).

Yeah, I think I may be okay. One finds ways to amuse ones self when left in the lurch by their offspring. How about you? What will you do when the kids are gone?

Pets vs Kids: 5 Reasons Why You Should Get A Dog Instead

I’m KIDDING! Settle down now. I love my kids! And my pets. In the “pet world” there are pet owners, then there are pets that own people. I like to think of myself as a mix of the former and latter. The third subgroup (who has taken a lot of heat from those who disagree) feel their pet gives them the right to claim that they A) Know what being a parent is like and B) Are fully prepared for impending parenthood based on the fact that they have said pet. I’m not here to bash those people (My cats are part of my family too!) I’m just gonna touch on why that’s a little true, and a lot wrong. After adding kids into the mix I’ve learned a few things…

1. Your pet, like a baby or child, may sometimes get up in the night to pee. The difference is the kiddo won’t wander outside, sniff a bush, do his or her business and then come back to bed with a simple “Come!” and fall asleep again. A baby will get up somewhere between 1 and infinite times per night to pee, poop, eat, cry, and fart aimlessly in the direction of your drooping eyelids. Sometimes they’ll just get up “because why not?”.

2. Pets and children are both messy. You probably know what its like to clean up furballs and “accidents” but until your pet grows opposable thumbs and applies your brand new Urban Decay eyeshadow pallet to every surface on their body with a vigor that rivals a deep tissues massage…well you don’t know the struggle (or the tears).

3. Looking after both your pet or a child can be demanding on your time. However, I have yet to hear of someone kenneling their kid and busting out of the house for some “me time” without the proper authorities being alerted. If I set my baby on her playmat and tell her “I’ll be home soon, wait right here!” she will not  wait right there, and I will not be home soon because I’ll no doubt be in jail. Instead of telling the baby “Good Boy!” I’ll be telling Sally from Cellblock C that I’m starting to think that “How to Train Your Dog for Dummies” wasn’t a “good enough” alternative to “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”

4. Dogs and children both need to be fed, bathed, and groomed. The difference lies in the frequency and expectations of the human/pet. A dog, for example, will expect the same kind of food to appear in its bowl every day for years and each time will act like you just gave them a 10 course meal befitting a royal coronation dinner. A baby will absolutely-freaking-adore that lovingly prepared squash/carrot puree on Monday, hate it  with the fire of a thousand suns on Tuesday, and cry for then eat all the squash off of your plate on Wednesday. Don’t get me started on how they’ll look like something from The Walking Dead if you try that “once a month” doggie bath schedule. Brushing their hair? Not the leg-shaking good time your dog dog has. More like rafter-shaking cries to alert everyone in a 10 block radius that ponytails are indeed the devil’s preferred hairstyle.

5. You spend money on your pets just like you would a child. The average cost of raising a child to 18 years is said to be around $243,660 (I’d bet depending on school or special needs that could skyrocket) and by one vets calculation the cost of a dog (on the low end) over 14 years is $4,242.00. There’s a loooottttt of doggy sweaters and kitty manicures going on if your pet is costing you the same. (The downside to googling this stuff is now I’m thinking of all the nice horsies that wouldn’t’ talk back to me I could have if I didn’t have children.)

There is no doubt in my mind that pets are part of your (and my!) family. I don’t even argue against the fact that they can prepare you a little for what its like to be in charge of another life. I’m just saying until your pet not only poops in the house while your’re not looking, but then proceeds to go all Michelangelo and paints a mural on their 4 walls with the medium “turd”, lets just agree that the two are a bit different.

Silhouette Images via nobacks.comclipartbest.com/

How To Deal With Angry Arse (Yeast Rash) While Cloth Diapering

How To

I’ve been having reoccurring ear and throat issues and have been on 3 rounds of antibiotics in the last few months. (You breastfeeding Moms probably know where I’m going with this.) The antibiotics get rid of the good stuff in your body that keeps the yeast in check causing an overabundance, and sometimes your pass that on to your baby via breastmilk. Thus follows the dreaded yeast rash. Can I just say I hate this rash? Its so stubborn, a layer of zinc ointment doesn’t cut it. Plus cloth diapering can make it harder to get rid of if you’re not washing them properly the whole time.  I thought I’d outline some tips and tricks to help clear it up fast.

Nystatin + Zinc Cream: Nystatin ( a topical anti-fungal) you can ask for at your pharmacy without a prescription (here in Canada anyways). You can also just grab whatever your go to cream for yeast you use on your lady bits off the shelf.  I rub a good layer of the Nystatin all over the red/spotty area and then layer the Zinc cream over that. It keeps the medicine on and the pee away from the rash. It seems especially important if they’re an older baby because solids seem to make their wee a lot more acidic/ammonia-y.

Don’t forget to use a liner with your cloth diapers if you are using NON-cloth friendly ass creams!

Baking Soda Bath: This can help with regular diaper rash or Yeast rash. Make sure not to use if the skin is broken which sometimes happens with yeast rash. Overall it makes the skin feel super smooth so if you keep a box in your bathroom for nothing else but your own baths you’re winning. Here’s a how to link: Baking Soda Baths For Diaper Rashes from Homeremediesforlife.com

Consider Going Disposable (at least at night): Just till it clears up! I seriously had a hard time with it too but the fact is, those cute cloth diapers need to be washed in hot hot water and vinegar (or your fav detergent) to kill the yeasties living in them every time you wash. Some people only wash in cold water, or only have a cold water option so its easier to use disposables till the rash is cleared up and only strip your diapers the once instead of after every wear while the rash is ongoing. Also, again because of the strong pee, if you’re not changing a diaper in the night anymore its not great to let them sit in a cloth all night. Disposables do have an absorbent gel that wicks away moisture better in my opinion.  

Another option is to use flushable liners until the rash clears up. Make sure the whole diaper is covered to protect it from contamination and never use the same one twice (obv…ew).

If you decide to keep on with the cloth, make sure you strip those diapers every time so you’re not reinfecting. Here’s a handy link from lilhelper.ca on yeast/cloth in general and also a bit on stripping the diapers to prevent reinfection: How Do I Wash Cloth Diapers After A Yeast/Thrush Infection?

I’m not an expert or anything but that’s what I’ve been doing for this latest round of yeast. I did my rounds on the internet to see what I could find to try for P’s poor red bottom so I thought I’d add mine to the pile. If you have any questions or suggestions or home remedies *I* should try leave me a comment!

Wishing you clear bums and happy babes!

Throw Back Parenting (#TBP)

We’ve all heard that old school parenting advice from our grandmothers, mothers, aunts, and random old ladies at the grocery store that make us wonder how the human race has possibly survived. I had a talk with my mother today about how different things were back when she was a child. AKA: How things were a trillion times more dangerous and exhausting.  As one of 11 children born and raised in the Canadian country she has seen her share of parenting hits and misses. Get ready to clutch those pearls ladies, cause we’re about to visit the terrifying world of #TBP (Throw-back Parenting).

Baby Carriages of DOOM: Unlike the 27 point harnesses of today (okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration), the carriages of yore were basket shaped catastrophes on wheels. There were no straps, no harness of any kind to keep the child inside. Mother told me of a situation where some of her siblings had 2 carriages out and were horsing around with my uncle inside one. They crashed them together demolition derby style and Uncle falls out and breaks his arm.  The doctor might have been having an off day, seeing as how put my uncles cast on too tight…and that’s the story of how he almost lost the use of his hand. The harness isn’t looking so bad now.

What’s a Carseat?: Mom said she had never heard of a carseat until they had to bring me home in one. When she was a child they piled 6 or 7 children in the back of a car. If there was a wee one it would be held by someone else. Not having seatbelts for everyone wasn’t a problem since there were no seatbelts. They would have definitely qualified for the carpool lane had there been one.

DIY Baby Formula: My grandmother fed her babies the popular nutrition of her time. Canned milk. Yes, the kind the adults would use to make food or put in their coffee. While it worked for them, I’m not endorsing it. We’ve come a long way with nutritious formula and breastfeeding awareness thank goodness. I still can’t help but imagine, however,  the “#cannedisbest” and “#normalizecanfeeding” hashtags going viral on Instagram accompanied with pictures of smiling moms holding their cans (not to be confused with the euphemism).

The Clothes Wringer of Mutilation:  Being from the country, and a modest upbringing, my mother can still remember not having running water. However, everyone was cloth diapered. Let that sink in a bit. No running water, and 11 children and countless years of soiled diapers. And no running water.  I cloth diaper and the grossest thing about it is when you accidentally touch the poo trying to get them into the washer. Not only did they touch it, they washed all those bad boys by hand, and used a device that apparently rivaled the medieval “rack” to wring them out. My Aunt caught her arm in the “wringer” once and has a scar to this day. I’m feeling extra thankful for my God-knows-how-old top loader.

The Husband-Free Home Birth: In this day and age, a homebirth is a researched decision made with thought and planning.  It’s upsides usually include being in a safe environment surrounded by comforting things. You know, like your family. In my grandmothers day it was a given. 8 out of 11 of her children were born at home (including a set of twins) and my Gramps made sure to stay out of the way. There was no hand holding or birth coaching. Somebody had to work. The doctor was called and the kids were told he brought the baby in his black doctor’s bag.

So many things have changed and I think we can all agree, for the better. The main reason I think we have survived is a mothers love never changes and it finds a way to overcome most obstacles. This does not include seatbelts, as I’ve learned from this chat with Mom. So buckle up because no matter what the decade, motherhood is a fulfilling but bumpy ride.