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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How to Be A Keyboard Warrior in the Mom Wars

How To Be A

There’s a dark side to the internet. Articles, commentaries and memes with smoke filled comment sections booming with the battle cries of the fiercest warriors on earth. Moms. You’ve tried so hard to avoid this, vowed you would never yield to picking up a weapon and mowing down someone’s personal thoughts with your own. Till that one fateful day someone makes an off-hand comment about being anti-vax or breastfeeding vs formula feeding and BAM! You lift your head an hour later and realize you’re smack dab in the middle of the Mom Wars.

So here you are. You’ve had the kid, you possess the unwavering opinions on subjects you may or may not have personal experience with…but how do you “win”? You feel so unprepared. It’s ok honey, I’m here. Put the baby down for a nap, stretch deep into your yoga pants and sip that latte. I’m here to tell you how to be an effective Keyboard Warrior.

Never Give Up: Like literally never, ever. No matter how knowledgeable your opponent is on the subject. No matter how many people have pointed out that you haven’t been IN their situation so you can’t possibly know what it’s like. You keep stating your point over and over until people start posting that eye roll emoji and blocking you from their page. That’s how you know you’ve really gotten through to them.

Google is Your Friend: Google will never let you down. It will always side with you. Not just anyone can google you know, and you can’t just put whatever you want on the internet so you can trust that it’s true. Say you’re trying to prove that vaccines are harmful. You just scroll right on down past all those studies of thousands of kids done by so-called “scientists” and find the ones done by tinfoil wearing conspiracy theorists. It doesn’t matter if the entire study is done based on their 4 children and the 2 neighbor kids. The truth will prevail!

Bring in the Reinforcements: That friend you had from grade school that gave her kid Tylenol for a 103 degree fever and he threw up immediately after? You tag her in this shit. That childless guy your husband’s cousin went to school with that believes doctors are all buying yachts with their Big Pharma money they receive for prescribing antibiotics? Add him to the local Mommy Group. It doesn’t matter who it is, if they believe what you do they’re 100% correct.

Never Check Your Facts: God gave you that Mommy Intuition for a reason. If you feel like someone is doing something wrong because you do it differently than for the love of self-righteousness you have an obligation to inform them their choice is wrong. Even if their way isn’t hurting anyone or detrimental to the immediate health and happiness of the child. Someday, someway, it will come back to them in therapy and prove to have been the causation of all their downfalls.

Employ Operation Compliment Sandwich: Little Timmy is looking a bit robust for his age in your cousin’s latest Facebook photo. You don’t’ want to step on any toes so you bust out the best tasting sandwich you can muster. The Compliment Sandwich. “Timmy looks soooooo cute in his little romper. Just so you know, it could be a sign of childhood obesity for him to be in 9 month clothes at 6 months. My lil guy was in average range at EVERY SINGLE WELL-BABY CHECKUP but obviously I do all organic and that helps. He’s really cute though with all those rolls!”

And there you have it. You’ve armed yourself with all the grace and tact of a Wi-Fi wielding dictator while still having the good sense to never say these things to someone’s face. I can’t say you’ll win every battle but as long as you feel confident that you’ve got your point across even when it wasn’t asked for well, that’s winning the war. Godspeed my friend.

A Vacation with Kids

Vacation With Kids

Is there anything more stressful and tiring than a vacation with children?
No. There’s not.

Have you ever heard someone say they needed a vacation from their vacation?
Those people probably had kids.

What is a vacation with kids?

Basically the crying, screaming, and sleep deprivation of everyday life are broken up with a few Instagram worthy moments of visiting zoo’s and theme parks. At the end of the day you’re in some strange room or hotel and the kids are super wired and extra overtired and nobody sleeps well. Then you get up and do it all over again.

There’s also the travel. Both of my wee ones get carsick so add “Drugged” and “Stupor” followed by “Loopy” into the mix, bringing a weird menage a trois of the lesser known characters of Snow White to the car.

So needless to say, although it was great to get out and do things last week, I’m looking forward to things being back to normal now. The husband is back to work (Praise Banana) the kids have caught up on some sleep (Bless Thor) and I am back to procrastinating on my housework and writing things (Hail Coffee).

Have a peaceful week!

Finding My Neverland

Finding My Neverland

Do you remember what it was like to be free?
A child’s freedom is tangible, infectious, and enviable.
A child’s joy is not confined by social boundaries or expectations. It runs on happiness and curiosity and slows only to give way to wonder.

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When did we lose that exuberance for life? Why did we listen when the unspoken voice of society told us to “sit down, shut up and act our age?

Somewhere along the journey from our wide-eyed childhood, someone taught us what fat meant. Said no one too many times. Broke our hearts.
We learned about violence and prejudice. About expectations and acceptable behavior.
We became cynical and cautious in order to protect the spark of joy we still had deep inside.

My hope is that we learn to get it back. That we will play with our children and see the world through their eyes. That we will put aside caution and social expectations and instead find that  spark and fan it till it’s a wildfire burning away the boundaries we’ve set for ourselves.

Life is too short not to find the magical. Too hard not to strive to find as much happiness as possible. Too precious to walk a path made for us, instead of carving out our own.

Too wonderful not to enjoy.

I don’t want to grow up any more. I want to grow down. I want to see the world through the undiluted eyes of a child. I want to be happy.

I want to be free.

The Mom Night-Life Scene: Decoded

Mom Night-Life

I know what you’re thinking.
You’re thinking about whole-bottle wine-a-thon’s after the kids are in bed.
About getting out of the house with your girlfriends and dancing the night away while they sleep (And consequently the epic hangover that you have to parent through the next day).
About tawdry nightclubs for Mom’s to unleash their inner freak (No? Just me? Sorry).

In actuality I am just going to tell you about last night. About the underbelly of parenting. Some might say the hardest part of the day isn’t DAY, it’s the night. Probably that someone has a crappy sleeper like I do. Someone out there understands, I know you do.

Let me preface by saying my 1 year old not only doesn’t sleep through the night yet, she still night nurses. Yeah. So…leave your judgement at the door but feel very free to give me tips on how to make that stop.

Also, I’m just gonna guess on the time-frame that all this happened cause when it’s after midnight EXACT TIME HAS LOST ALL MEANING!

6:30PM Rock/Nurse Baby and lay her in crib.

7:00PM Rock/Nurse Baby and lay her in crib. (At this point Samuel L. Jackson becomes my spirit animal. Go the eff to sleep, kid!)

7:30PM Rock/Nurse baby and lay her in crib. THANK EFF! She stayed. I notice that the 4yo has passed out backwards on my bed without brushing her teeth or using the bathroom. I’ma just let that happen.

8:00PM Plop 4yo unceremoniously in her loft bed and shut her door.

PLAY MARIO KART LIKE A 12YO FOR AN UNDETERMINED AMOUNT OF TIME. Yes, I’m 30 but when the kids are asleep I’m allowed to be a child again.

11:00PM Drift off into sweet sweet oblivion.

12:30AM Baby decides she wants to get up. I’ve taken my allergy pills at this point. They help with allergies and they make me sleepy so I usually take them before bed. Side effects include NIGHT EATING LIKE A BOSS. Seriously I scarfed down half a hotdog bun with cheez whiz and a bunch of Cheezits (at least there was a theme?) and put the baby back to bed.

4:30AM Baby gets up again. I go to pee and notice one of my 3 cats (yes, I AM a little insane to have that many cats along with kids) has brutally murdered a small creature in the bathtub. What the hell is this, Cat-Dexter?! I’ve been down this road before. I just left it there. Ok? I was not picking up dead mouse in the night. Don’t worry I got to it later. In the fuzzy ,pre-coffee first lights of day. This is my fur-family, I will clean up the mess. Sanitizing the bathtub isn’t too big of a deal. Wrapping the mouse in plastic seems a tad weird but what if I don’t dispose of it properly and it’s family came looking for it? Thank God for crime shows.

6:00AM The rooster child I birthed decided it was time to rise. I did not agree. The other 4yo rooster child did however. I gave the big kid netflix to watch via my phone in bed and tried to get the baby to sleep. No dice. Face clawing of Real Housewives of New Jersey proportions ensued. I went to the bathroom to find out the murderer moved the body from the original crime scene prompting me to clean it up ASAP before one of the children found it.

7:00AM I had coffee and put a stop to the NOT-AT-ALL uplifting morning flute melodies big kiddo was playing. I decided to chronicle this night that, murder aside, wasn’t all that weird or abnormal at all.

I am completely aware that I signed up for this.
And most of the time I am so used to it that I don’t even think about it or notice extra tiredness during the day.
Honestly the thing I’m most upset about is the Cheez. It’s not even “cheese”. I ate so much fake orange. That can’t be good for a person.

5 Situations That Make a Socially Awkward Mom Cringe

5 Situations That Make A (2)

Do you shudder at the thought of large crowds? Come home after events and analyze every meaningful conversation that you had till you’re convinced people think you’re crazy? Do you identify with the Socially Awkward Penguin meme so much that you’re convinced you should just move to Antarctica? If so, you might be socially awkward and being at these 5 places probably drives you batty.

1. Doctor’s Appointments: From the time you find out you’re pregnant to all the well-baby checkups that first year, the doctor’s office is your new home away from home. It’s not bad enough that they pack you into a tiny waiting room like a bunch of hugely pregnant sardines. No, people also have to chat. Polite chitchat is not your friend. It starts out fine but then your mouth starts talking faster than your brain can complete thoughts. It’s hard to get your foot in your mouth with the huge belly but you manage it every time.

2. Playdates: If they’re coming to your house you’ll clean for days before hand in preparation for tiny hands to mess things up. If you’re going to theirs you’ll worry about having to make conversation and if the other Mom’s will think you’re weird. Your child will inevitably recruit other kids and start a small riot and you’re left wondering if she’s the “bad kid” or “gang leader” in the other parent’s minds. After mulling it over for months you chalk it up to youthful curiosity and fun and hope you get invited back again. Not because you want to go, but because that would mean you haven’t been blacklisted.

3. Waiting in Line: There’s someone behind you. There’s someone in front of you. Do you stare off into the distance? Should you mention how nice the weather is? Oh God, my child just asked that woman what the mole on her face is. Maybe I can just go on my phone…oh great I just realized I’ve been standing here laughing at stupid Facebook messages. I look like a wingnut! I’ll just talk to my kids like a really attentive Mom. Nobody can find fault in that surely. I’m just here to do some banking, this is too much!

4. Birthday Parties: I’m not sure what age you’re supposed to just drop them off and leave but someone needs to establish a number quick! Should I socialize with the other Mom’s? I don’t wanna. Follow my kid around to make sure he doesn’t break anything? Awkward. Just give me a freaking hotdog and some cake so I have something to do with my hands and people will leave me alone. If you’re lucky that one Mom you get along with is also there and you can follow her around like a lost puppy piggybacking on her good manners. Why don’t they serve wine at these things?

5. School Committees: If you’re on one of these babies it’s probably because you’ve been “volun-told”. Someone volunteered you for the job. You now hate them with a passion equaled to the burning fire of a 1000 suns. (You’ll get yours Cindy. The zoo trip is coming up and I feel your arachnophobia makes you well suited to take the kids through the spider exhibit.) You can sit around meetings quietly listening and risk the group thinking you’re not helping. Or you can throw out some ideas and risk being the “bossy” one. Dear God these need to come with a manual. Or be done via text because it’s easier to cringe and hate myself after I speak without anyone seeing me.

5 Reasons Toddlers Will Survive the Zombie Apocolypse

CURLY BRACKETS TO

If you haven’t heard of the show “The Walking Dead” you live under a rock and won’t be reading this post anyway since I hear the WiFi is pretty spotty down there. If you are reading this post you’ve probably at least heard of the show. Maybe you’re a fan like I am and root for your fav characters to survive. They don’t all survive, however (cue millions of Beth tears). Do you know who would? Toddlers. They’re crafty little humans that get underestimated because of their size and tendency to poop their pants.

“But how?!” you ask. “They can barely speak and their biggest threat is being almost as cute as Norman Reedus!?”

They can exist on very little sleep: No walker is going to get them in the dead of night. They’ll be up every 1.5 hours and will wake for something as little as a floorboard creaking or someone peering into their crib to check on them. Sometimes they’ll just stay up most of the night on high alert, and still be awake enough the next day to refuse their nap.

Kids will eat anything (or exist on nothing at all): From stuff they found in the garbage can to leaves and dirt outside, kids will eat anything (except what you lovingly prepare for dinner). Starvation will never be a problem no matter how sparse the pickings because they have trained themselves to exist on 2 Goldfish Crackers and a sip of milk per day.

Oh, and everything they don’t eat is applied directly on their body for camouflage.

They can make a weapon out of anything: They have lots of practice hitting their siblings (or parents) with different toys to see which one leaves the biggest bump. Kids learn young how to position Lego to inflict the most pain and slow you down. If a walker actually catches up with them they’ll turn their super cute chubby toes into iron-like daggers and leave bruises on their thighs till they let them down. They’re at a stage where violence still doesn’t bother them so they’re ruthless.

They’re super good at being quiet when things are going down: You know when a toddler’s quiet that means something is afoot. They’re into SOMETHING. The dead are coming? You won’t hear a peep as they fashion a flaming spear out of a baton, fork and matches they found in Dad’s pocket.

This is also the trait that allows them to sneak up and scare the crap out of you. Good for ambushes.

They prefer to live in makeshift shelters and forts: Throw a blanket over a couple chairs and they’re ecstatic. Every night in the wilderness in a homemade tent or tree fort is gonna be like Christmas. They won’t ask to go traipsing through the forest to find better lodgings that are probably already occupied by the dead owners. No, they’ll be content to stay put and make another bedroom out of the bedding of anyone who bites the dust. Err…gets bit (same thing).

no-walkers-allowed

I can’t wait to meet up with all you parents out there in the post apocalyptic world. The more toddlers we have together the safer we’ll be (that logic doesn’t work in ANY other situation). Which skills will your kiddo will bring to the gang?

The Big Box Mom’s Club

The

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.

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/