Monday, November 30, 2015

Mom Guilt Starts Before Conception

Mom guilt.  

Each of us has it to varying degrees, but we all have it.... likely oscillating between a soft whisper and a loud, CANNOT-BE-IGNORED yell from time to time.  Hopefully those loud moments are few and far between and we can ignore the whispers most.

Since FrenchFry was born two and a half years ago, my particular brand of mom guilt has centered around sending him to daycare (read: abandoning my poor child) and killing myself over pumping issues to make sure I never had to supplement breast milk.  (Not that there is anything wrong with using formula but, again, we are talking about my particular brand of mom guilt and I think breastfeeding became a non-negotiable for me because of guilt around going back to work).  There is also the guilt I feel when I don't want to play a game or read a book for the 15th time and really just want to pawn off bedtime on my husband and binge watch Netflix or bad reality TV.  I mean... I feel the guilt... but will still do it, of course.

But those more recent sources of mom guilt have overshadowed my previous incarnations and I had almost forgotten how early mom guilt really starts.  Now that I'm pregnant again I'm reminded how soon mom guilt starts to creep in.  It can happen even before you are pregnant.

Pre-Conception Guilt: It's real. 

How many of us wish we had lost more weight before getting pregnant?  And not just because of the weight we will gain, but to make sure we are as healthy as possible for the pregnancy.  This time around I started pregnancy 20 pounds heavier than when I got pregnant with FrenchFry.  I just couldn't lose most of the baby weight with him.  I nursed him until I was in my second trimester with this pregnancy and I'm still holding out hope that nursing was what kept me from losing the weight.  So... I guess we'll find out the answer to that in about 3 years if nursing Tater Tot ends up being much the same?  No matter what the reason was, I definitely felt guilty coming into this pregnancy not as healthy as I wish that I were.  The guilt:  it's there and it's real.

Pregnancy Guilt: 9 months of second guessing everything you do.

Much of pregnancy is filled with rules and restrictions on what you should eat and drink.  There are also activity restrictions, lots of conflicting advice, old wives tales, and sometimes straight-up shaming.

I remember when I was pregnant the first time and a (sort of ridiculous) friend of mine was saying that you only need an extra 300 calories per day when pregnant in a judgy of the "eating for two" theory on eating during pregnancy.  It wasn't the judginess about over-eating so much as when she said "a cup of blueberries is 100 calories."  (Cue the sound of my head getting ready to explode.)

Yes... let's judge pregnant women for eating too many blueberries.  Grr...

At the time I was in the fun queasy all the time and nothing except carbs or cheesy carbs could be eaten stage.  And I was particularly proud of myself because after I would settle my stomach with crackers or mashed potatoes just to get something down and keep myself from not feeling like I was going to puke for 45 minutes or so, I would shove a bunch of blueberries in my mouth and feel good about myself for actually eating something with some nutrients in it.

Yes, of course you should try to eat healthy, nutritious foods while pregnant (and always) but the shaming and the guilt is a bit too much sometimes.  As I write this, my Facebook news feed is filled with versions of (this) article saying "nearly half of pregnant women gain too much weight."  Cue more guilt.

Childbirth Guilt: This is the guilt that you get to feel guilty about having at all.

Personally I dealt with a lot of guilt around FrenchFry's birth.  It's enough to explore in a separate blog post, and I probably do need to revisit my feelings about his birth before I give birth to TaterTot.

Don't get me wrong, things turned out fine: FrenchFry was healthy, and I was able to have a vaginal birth.  But there were a few very scary moments when both FrenchFry and I went into distress and whether or not it was true, I blamed myself.  Going into his birth I wanted to avoid interventions and medication if possible.  Not because I'm some warrior woman, but because I worried that interventions would lead to more interventions.  And once I did get the epidural with FrenchFry, that is when those scary, tense moments happened.

But childbirth guilt is one that can cause you even more guilt for having those feelings.  I walked away from a healthy pregnancy and birth with a healthy baby.  Not everyone is as lucky as I was, so how can I even feel regret or express anything resembling a complaint about my experience?  Interventions may or may not lead to more interventions, but in this case guilt does lead to more guilt.

Now That They Are Here Guilt: The guilt that keeps on giving.

As I mentioned, daycare and breastfeeding have been my biggest two sources of mom guilt since FrenchFry was born. Of course they are not the only sources... once our kids are here the sources for guilty are endless.  And each new phase and milestone your child goes through brings new and different potential sources of mom guilt.  I usually have an amazing amount of patience for FrenchFry given my total lack of patience in every other aspect of my life... but sometimes it's just too much.  One morning this week, after having woken up in the middle of the night realizing I had forgotten to prepare for an important work presentation, I hit levels of stress and impatience with FrenchFry and our dog (sorry, Nola dog) that I feel pretty awful about.

But it happens.

We lose our patience.  We put our kids in daycare.  We work too late too often.  We look at our phones too often when we are with our kids.  We let the dishes and laundry pile up.  We forget to tell our partners thank you.

Mom guilt is real... but you aren't the only one.  We all feel it.  The hope is that it stays at that whisper as much as possible and when it's the loud, can't-be-ignored yell, then hopefully it doesn't last too long and we don't beat ourselves up too much about it.  We need to move on.

Recently I saw this quote and it's my new mantra:

"The very fact that you worry about being a good mom meant that you already are one." - Jodi Picoult

Do you remember when you first felt mom guilt?  How do you deal with the endless sources of guilt that come with the territory of being a mom?



Cuddle Fairy



My Random Musings


http://www.reflectionsfromme.com

Sunday, November 22, 2015

You Don't Get to Decide


I'm linking up with #CandidCuddles quote linky this week.  Check out the other great posts here:


Cuddle Fairy


FrenchFry, my soon to be 3 year old, has been surprisingly (to me at least) sensitive and in tune with other people's emotions from a young age.  He often asks you if you are okay if you are sad or frustrated and is quick to offer an apology or a hug if he hurts you unintentionally. 

Even though I do my best not to tell him "you're okay" when he's hurt or sad and let him tell me when he is actually okay, sometimes he will say "no, you are okay" or "I didn't hurt you."  I recently found myself telling him that he doesn't say whether or not he hurt me, that only I can say if I was hurt or not.  When I said it to FrenchFry I was talking about physical hurt and then I saw this quote:




It made me think that the lesson I was trying to teach FrenchFry is a really important one that is very easy for us to forget as adults too.  People are allowed to have their feelings and sometimes we hurt or upset them without intending to do so.  Instead of trying to justify our own actions or downplay their feelings, we need to remember that they get to decide how they feel.  It's okay for us to explain our own intentions but never to undermine or try to takeaway from what it is they have experienced.

Seeing this quote so soon after talking to FrenchFry about something similar was perfect timing and will help me to keep this lesson going for him... and for myself.  It's a good reminder that just because we have good intentions doesn't mean we won't hurt someone else and each of us have the right to our own experiences and feelings.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

And Here's the Part Where I Jinx Us

I was afraid to celebrate too soon and jinx us but now that it's been two days in a row I'm going to chance it.

We have had 2 - count them TWO - accident free potty training days in a row!  There is light at the end of the toilet - er, tunnel!




We have been taking the long, slow approach to potty training. I know there are plenty of experts who tout the 3 day method for potty training but we are going with the 3 month (plus maybe a few more) plan. Much like the (non)sleep-training approach we took.  

Read: The Lazy Method. 

BUT...

It appears to be working!  The non-sleep-training thing also worked for us so we will go with it. Essentially the lazy method is to ease into things and not push anything too fast and go with instincts (or sometimes with whatever is just easier in the moment). For us it has minimized crying and in the case of potty training accidents.  I know this might not work with all kids so as with anything parenting or child related it isn't universal but things seem to be looking up for having a potty trained kid at (or around, we aren't pushing remember) his third birthday.  

And once I stop high-fiving myself, I'll go pick FrenchFry up from daycare to get the news that he had 15 accidents and refused to go near the potty today.  Because parenting is usually a one step forward, half a step back process. 

But for right now- we are accident free for two whole days! We will take it. 

:)

How did you approach potty training?  Was it the same for each of your kids if you have more than one?  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

There Is Always Someone...


FrenchFry and his dad after a night in the ER.



A few nights ago, FrenchFry (2.5 year old) fell and landed with his mouth on a small wooden table.  There was a horrible, horrible sound and then the silence of a kid in shock and pain before the loud screams and cries.  I held him as his mouth filled with blood and we immediately knew this was a bad one and that his teeth were likely damaged.  After just a few moments of holding him, we jumped in the car and drove the excruciatingly long drive to the Children's Hospital.  (Why do we not live closer to the hospital?!)

By the time we got there he was mostly calm and watching videos on my phone.  The bleeding had stopped and he would only cry intermittently. We saw the ER doctor who couldn't find any damage to his mouth except for the clearly bent back front teeth.  She consulted with the on call dentist and we had an appointment for the next day at the dental clinic.

That night we had FrenchFry sleep in our bed so we could stay close and monitor him.  He woke up moaning a few times and we gave him some Tylenol.  The next day I stayed home with him and we cuddled on the couch and he watched way more TV than I'd care to admit while I took care of some work before his appointment.

Holding hands while he watches Umizoomi and I get some work done.

The dentist appointment was more traumatic than the actual ER visit for both FrenchFry and us.  He screamed through the exam and then had to get x-rays and since I'm pregnant I couldn't be in there with him. I feel bad for the other kids in the waiting room having to listen to him scream bloody murder for ten minutes.  Not exactly a great introduction into going to the dentist.  And then the dentist came back with our "two options:" either pull both his front teeth right then and there or wait a week and most certainly have to pull them then.

That's the point when I lost it.  I know they are only baby teeth but the news that they wanted to pull them was shocking.  I said no way to pulling them onsite, asked a few more questions and we left with an appointment set up for ten days later.  I've since come to terms with the idea that they may need to remove his teeth and it will be okay, but in the meantime we are also going to get a second opinion just to make sure it's really necessary.

So it's been a rough couple of days in the Ketchup house... but through it all and certainly now that we've had some time to see that he is going to be okay and to adjust to the possibility of losing the teeth, I know that it could have been way worse.   It can always be worse.

It was scary and hard, and it is sad to see his swollen little face right now, but he is okay.  There are parents who go through much worse with their kids.  And there are people who have tried to become parents and would give anything to be in our shoes with a healthy, normal kid who is going to have some accidents in his life and at worse might be without his front teeth for a few more years than we expected.

It's good to remember that there is always someone who would love to have your bad days....
 

Cuddle Fairy




My Random Musings

Monday, August 31, 2015

Reveal Cake #FAIL


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Flashback to a few weeks ago when my mom asked me if I wanted to have a gender reveal party for the baby...

My first thought was that I wasn't interested but then I thought.... well I do really like cake so.... maybe?

Once I gave her the yellow light of a maybe she let her imagination run wild.  Before I knew it, she was planning a party where we would FaceTime friends and family across the country.  And we would mail them all petit fours (mini cakes) with the blue or pink on the inside for them all to enjoy while they watched us cut the cake for the reveal over 1000 miles away.

The more I thought about it though, the more it just didn't feel like me (or my husband).  First of all - I'm a data/input person.  If there is information out there I want to know it RIGHT NOW.  I don't have the patience to wait for a party and for a baker to make a cake to find out something like this.

I also thought about how I really want to stay away from using the term gender at this point (really we were just learning the baby's sex) so what would we even call the party?  "Sex Party" doesn't have quite the connotation we would be looking for...

My mom suggested we call it a "Blue or Pink Party" but then that brings up a whole slew of other issues I have with pushing gender stereotypes on our children and the consumer culture of pink vs. blue for children.  (Yes, Mom, I know it can be exhausting to be my mother but at least I have convictions!)

So at that point we put the reveal party idea behind us.  I told my husband about my mom's ideas and he immediately said "no - that's not us."  We may have a party to celebrate this baby's impending arrival but it will be just that - a gathering of friends to celebrate Tater Tot.

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Now to the day we actually found out Tater Tot is a boy.  I already shared the corny, but sweet way I shared the news with my husband here.

My mom called to to find out if I had heard and again I just didn't feel right telling her over the phone so I told her I knew but wasn't ready to tell her.  I had to make her squirm a little, you know.  She actually threw an "it's not like I gave birth to you or anything" at me, but I held strong and didn't let on.

I called my husband and we hatched a plan to give my mom the reveal cake she wanted.  I invited her to over for dessert and stopped at two different stores to find cake mix and blue food coloring (yes, I have convictions but I also was short on time to come up with any other ideas and I knew my mom would enjoy it).

And thus begins the creation of the ugliest reveal cake in the history of reveal cakes...


It started out well enough...

That's me: Suzy Homemaker.  Ahem.
We had our bright, blue cake batter ready and even cooked perfectly.  Then we tried to transfer the cake....

Oops.  :-/
Okay - we can work with this.  Let's just cut it into a smaller cake and ice it.  No big deal!

This is going from bad to worse... The blue from the cake came through the icing, and I made the mistake of heating up the icing in the microwave to make it more spreadable but instead turned it into liquid icing.  

Sigh.

Should've bought an extra tub of icing.

Thankfully I got the funfetti cake so the sprinkles helped camouflage the blue and well... maybe helped make it look a little better?  Maybe....



At least it tasted good!  Any my mom got her "reveal party" after all.

Yum.




Thursday, August 20, 2015

And it's a......!

This week we found out the sex of this little baby (Tater Tot To Be)!


Unlike with our first (FrenchFry), when my husband and I found out together during our 18 week ultrasound, this time we found out through a phone call based on a blood test done at 14 weeks.  It's amazing to see the medical advancements in just a few years between pregnancies.

I got the news over the phone while I was working from home and my husband was at work.  I just didn't feel right telling him the news through a text or phone call so I hatched a last minute plan to surprise him at work.

I quickly ran over to the grocery store to get some flowers and to find something to help me share the news.  And I settled on some petit fours that had the familiar color (I'm not too into the blue is for boys and pink is for girls thing, but I  like convenience and this was the easiest plan I could hatch in the few minutes I had).

I drove over to my husband's office and texted him from the parking lot that I got the call.  He immediately called me back and said "Aaaaaannnnnnndddddd????"  So I told him to come outside.

And then I gave him the bag with the petit fours to open and inside he found...


Tater Tot is a BOY!!!

The plan was a bit corny but it in reality it was also very special and sweet.  My husband was very surprised by the visit and it was great to be able to tell him the news in person.

I don't know why but I've always thought I would be the mother of boys.  And now that's going to be true!  TWO boys!  And FrenchFry is going to have a little brother.  We can't wait until this little guy is here and have our two little boys together.

Parents of BOYS.  :-)


Linked up with Momster's Link!

Domesticated Momster

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

We're Going to Need More Ketchup!


Big news in KetchupLand...

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FrenchFry is going to be a BIG BROTHER! 



I am so excited to be able to share that I'm 14 weeks pregnant with my second child!  It has been really hard to keep this news from the blog for the past 10 weeks.  (Somehow those 10 weeks have both flown by and seemed to crawl at a snail's pace at the same time.)  It has also caused me to have total writer's block as I couldn't find anything to write about except for the ONE THING I COULDN'T TALK ABOUT.

But we are ready to share our happy and exciting news with the world, and boy do I have some stuff to say about being pregnant a second time!  Expect to hear a lot more from me as we prepare to go from one kid to two and navigate pregnancy with a high energy toddler in the house.  (Spoiler Alert: It's exhausting!)

FrenchFry has NO IDEA what is coming!


Say Hello to Tater Tot:

Expected Arrival: January 2016




And of course like any good family photo shoot, there were outtakes.  :-)






Linked up with #momsterslink!

Domestic Momster

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Quotes That Keep Us Grounded - CandidCuddles Linky Post


After quite the hiatus from the blog - for good reason, which I will be sharing very soon - I'm back!  And for my first post in a long time, I'm linking up with the #CandidCuddles linky!

My quote for this week is one that helps me stay grounded as a parent:

This picture was taken at Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee where we are vacationing this week.

 "The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice" by Peggy O'Mara


This quote has always spoken to me, even before I had my son.  It's one of those things that I read and it just made sense to me.  And it's a good reminder when things get frustrating - as they tend to do with small children (and older children too I imagine!).  A reminder that how we react to them and the that things we say, and maybe just as importantly how we say it, matter.  Children are a blank canvas when they come to us and we are forming the world for them with everything we do and everything to which they are exposed.

My family and I are on vacation right now and all of our routines are turned upside down.  We are also here with my brother and his family including his two young children who have their own routines and set of rules.  This can definitely cause more than our normal share of toddler meltdown moments and can be a little less than relaxing... to put it mildly!  But quotes like this remind me to take a breath and try to stay patient because moments like this matter.  Plus I want to enjoy my vacation and letting myself get too upset or worked up because of some extra whiny-ness because of a missed nap isn't going to help me (or anyone else) enjoy this time together.


Do you have a favorite quote that helps you stay grounded as a parent?


Check out the CandidCuddles quotes linky  and the rest of this week's quotes here:



Cuddle Fairy



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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Quotes That Mean More Now That I'm A Parent



I started thinking  about some of my favorite quotes and sayings for Candid Cuddles Quote Linky from Cuddle Fairy and it made me think of a few quotes my parents used to say to me that mean so much more now that I'm a parent.

The one that stands out for me right now is:

Why yes, that IS butter covering my toddler.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.... And It's All Small Stuff!

 

My parents used to say this when I was a kid (I think my dad had a book by that name) and it has always been helpful to me.  It helps you keep things in perspective when things are going wrong or when you're having a bad day.  I know it was especially helpful for me as an angsty teen and early twenty-ish something, and I needed some perspective.  

And of course - it now comes in handy VERY often as a parent!  There are so many ups and downs as a parent, and life with a baby or toddler (and I can imagine older kids, tweens, teenagers...) is full of stressful stressful situations.  Sometimes it's easy to let the craziness get to you - particularly if you've had a bad day at work or have been cooped up with a cranky toddler all day.  The straw that breaks the camel's back is the soda your kid knocks over onto the new carpet or the "butter incident."

Sometimes your toddler gets his hands on the tub of butter and proceeds to grab handfuls of it like it's Playdoh and smear it all over himself, his high chair and the floor! (See photo above)  And it's okay.  It's small stuff.  Butter can be cleaned up (though you will still find it in the crevices of that chair for weeks) and clothes can be washed.  When things like that happen (because there are going to be countless examples) sometimes you just have to shake it off and laugh.  Because in the grand scheme of things these are small things and life is still full of those ups.  And it could always be worse...

It could have been poop!



If you want other useful, inspirational and/or funny quotes, check out the CandidCuddles quotes linky:

Cuddle Fairy

#candidcuddles

Saturday, May 9, 2015

I Don't Want What the Other Moms Want for Mother's Day

This week I've seen a number of posts about what mother's "really want" for Mother's Day.  The themes are generally the same:

No cooking:


No Cleaning:


No Changing Diapers:


More Sleep:



And while I do want all of those things too, and part of me wants to relate to those posts and share them with gusto proclaiming "yeah - this is what we really want! Amirite ladies??!?"

I just can't.

Why? Because my  my husband already does these things.

He cooks and cleans more than I do. He probably does 70% of the housework to my 30%.   (Okay - it's really 80/20) And while I haven't actually kept count on a macro scale my husband has most likely changed more dirty diapers than I have to date as well.  (I  do keep track of whose turn it is during any given day - don't we all?)  Plus he gets up with FrenchFry and lets me sleep in well past what most would think a reasonable hour at least one morning each weekend.  Often he will take FrenchFry for a long walk or to the grocery store so I can get up and spend time on the computer in peace while drinking my first cup of coffee too.  And speaking of the grocery store - I barely see the inside of one as he does the bulk of the shopping for the family as well. 

I'm living the dream, Folks.  Every day is Mother's Day for me.

Or at least, every day is the day that all of these posts are saying that moms want for Mother's Day.  It doesn't mean my life is all sunshine and rainbows and that it's not still hard to be a mom even with a husband who does so much.  Being a parent is hard no matter how much of the housework/diapering/cooking you do.  I still need acknowledgement this Sunday and maybe a little pampering or time for that "self care" I'm supposed to be doing.

And this may just be me justifying how unbalanced those things can be in our house but I do work longer hours than my husband (we both work full time).  Even after working late, it's a common occurrence for me to have to log onto my work computer after FrenchFry goes to bed a few nights a week (and on the weekends).  Plus I am the one that keeps the lights on and makes sure we have insurance and bills paid because I take care of our household paperwork and finances. 

I've also been giving myself (quite literally) in other ways that my husband has not with pregnancy and then nursing combined for three years now.  And because I was breastfeeding, I did the lion's share of the nighttime parenting - getting up with FrenchFry every night for two years.  (My husband did get up plenty those first months as well but at a certain point it made sense for me to get up solo for nighttime feedings.) And I also know there are things that I give to my son - things that I feel are very important like a strong show of patience, empathy and understanding.  My husband is also a wonderful, caring and responsive parent, but we show empathy in different ways. 

I am so grateful for my wonderful husband and all that he does for me and our little family.  I do think we balance each other out, and while there are ways in which he carries a heavier load than me, there are ways in which I believe I do as well.  Based on the posts I'm seeing this week, there are still many mothers out there who may still be taking on a greater load of the household and parenting than they would like.  

Maybe there is balance in those relationships too and the lists of the things that moms don't want this Sunday doesn't mean that those moms are stuck with more of the household and parenting necessarily.  Maybe we all just need a break from these things from time to time and Mother's Day is a good day to ask for that.  Though from talking to people and just the sheer volume of those types of posts - it makes me suspect that there is still a lot of imbalance out there.  I don't suspect we will see tons of posts from men asking for the day off from cooking, cleaning and diapering next month of Father's Day.  It's just a hunch.

A guy at work recently told me - after I threatened to explain to him with full detail on what pumping at work is all about and why YES, we do need a room dedicated for that in our offices - that he told his wife that he'd get involved once each of his kids turned two and a half.  Until that point, they were all hers.  And while he's clearly on the total asshat end of the spectrum when it comes to supportive husbands and fathers it is stories like this that make me thank my lucky stars for my partner in this whole parenting thing.

Mother's Day gets a lot of attention and drives a lot of commerce but based on the numerous posts I've seen recently, it seems like there is still a lot of work to be done to support and share the load for many mothers throughout the year. 

And for me, I'll just take some quality time with my family and my own mother to celebrate Mother's Day.  And maybe some chocolate.  :-)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Sleep... Glorious Sleep. Are We Ready To Give it Up So Soon?


FrenchFry (2 year old) has now slept through the night in his own toddler bed for enough nights in a row that I feel like I can publicize this without jinxing it.  Of course with that sentence I've probably just guaranteed myself at least a few rough nights, but I'm willing to take the chance.  (Dangerous words of an overly confident mom.)


Sleep... glorious sleep.


Two years ago my instincts told me to get up with my son (4 months old at the time) with each cry.  It was around 2 months old that I stopped getting up with each tiny whimper but, anything beyond that, I continued to get up to check on him and comfort him.  That usually meant nursing him for 45 minutes to an hour for the first year, though eventually that became just 30, then 15, then 5 minutes of nursing and he was back to sleep.  It's hard to remember specifics because life with an infant can be  especially blurry when trying to remember the haze of middle of the night parenting.

I know I began the process of night weaning him about 2 and a half months ago because I wrote about it here.  And I was feeling pretty confident when I wrote this a few weeks ago to let other parents know that you won't ruin them forever if you nurse, rock, etc. to sleep.  And now here we are - FrenchFry sleeps in his bed all night long and I got there without having to follow any "methods."

Instead... I just followed my instincts.

Through the last 2.25 years I have second guessed myself a lot when it came to FrenchFry's sleep.  In my heart I always felt that if I waited long enough, eventually he would be sleeping through the night and in his own bed.  And guess what?  It actually worked!  I wish I could go back to the me of 2 years ago - the first time mom of a 4 month old - and let her know that she doesn't have to doubt herself and it is going to work out like she thinks and hopes it will and take away the kernel of doubt that was always there... especially when the advice of the "experts" seemed to contradict my own instincts and approach.

Someone ALWAYS has their advice... sigh.

As my husband and I think about whether or not we are ready to try for another child, I know one of his biggest concerns is going back to that really hard place of having a newborn... to sleepless nights and a crying infant.  But I really think this time will be different.  I mean, I KNOW it will be different because every child is different but also because WE are different now.  We know how things can turn out.  We've been through to the other side and we have seen that you can (and will) get there one day.

One of the hardest things about those sleepless nights is that you don't know if you're going to get through it.  You don't know if you are ruining them for ever (spoiler alert: you're not)... especially when you hear advice from friends, coworkers, strangers, the Internet that tell you that you are doing it wrong. That the choices you are making will keep your child from ever sleeping through the night or in their own bed.  That they will never be able to fall asleep on their own (presumably there are millions of adults out there right now who can't fall asleep unless their roommates or spouses rock them to sleep because their parents did that for them as infants and toddlers).

I'm sure if we do have another child and I'm up at 3am (after having been up at 11pm and 1am as well) and at my wit's end I will remember how naive I was to think that the worst part was the not knowing... when the worst part is probably the torturous lack of sleep and the feeling of helplessness in the moment.  But I suspect that maybe next time will be different.  That I can cling to the fact that things did get better with FrenchFry so they are likely to do the same with the next child. 

Maybe I'm just trying to convince myself so I feel ready to make the plunge into having another child.  In some ways it seems like this new development of actually getting consistent sleep is the best reason not to jump into life with a newborn again!  Maybe it's just like getting a tattoo or giving birth where you forget what it was really like once you get far enough from it.

Or maybe it really will be different next time.


Are these well rested parents ready to give that up so soon?

If you're still in the trenches with infant sleep - just remember that it's okay to trust your instincts because it can and will get better!  

If you have had more than one child, did it get easier the second time around? 


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Liebster Award


A BIG thank you to Morna at Awesome Austerity for nominating me for the Liebster Award! 

Check out Morna's Liebster Award Q&A's here: http://awesomeausterity.com/?p=458



I'm very new to this blogging world, but so far I've found it to be such a welcoming community.  I've also found that just taking the time to blog (or tweet) about being a mom has been so much more rewarding than I ever expected.  The answer to my first "Liebster Award" Q&A talks about why that is.


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Questions provided by Morna at Awesome Austerity:

1. What are your hopes and aspirations for your blog? 

I don't know if I've completely figured this out yet, but I know that I'm already getting a lot from having started this blog.  I'm very career driven and have found my identity too wrapped up in what happens in my "day job" as an analytical manager recently.  Motherhood -  and the ability to talk about that through my blog - is much more of an important part of who I am than my job outside of the home, even as I continue to be ambitious.

The other hope that I have for my blog is that people find it relate-able.  Moms everywhere get a lot of advice, rules, judgement, etc. but I think what moms today really need is to be able to relate to others and know they aren't alone.

2. What television programme can you absolutely not miss?

There are too many to name - I watch more TV than I probably should admit!  Some of my favorites are Downton Abbey, Grey's Anatomy (even with the recent developments!), Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead.  Plus I binge watch Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Luther and The Killing when they release their seasons online.  (See - more than I should admit.)

3. What was the last dream you had?

I have boring dreams about work and missing deadlines.  I wish I had some interesting dreams to talk about but it seems like being late, forgetting something important or missing something important are the worries that are swirling my subconscious these days!  If I'm going to be dreaming about work, can't at least Ryan Gosling show up to play the part of my boss or something?

4. Who would be your three ideal dinner party guests and why?

This is always such a tough question because just like TV shows, it's hard to narrow it down.  I think today I would pick Hillary Clinton, President Obama and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  I think I'm having a very politically minded week because of certain events but I would love to talk to our current president and the woman I hope will become our next one about the issues that impact women and families in my country.  Paid maternity/paternity leave and the cost of childcare are such important issues for our society and it's a place where America is really far behind.  And Ginsburg is so intelligent and witty and I think she would be great to add to that conversation and to pick her amazing brain on so many other issues that are important to me.

5. What has been your worst cooking disaster?

Well I've never actually burnt down a kitchen so I feel like I've avoided disaster for the most part!  My husband actually does most of the cooking in this family.  I can cook but I don't love it and my schedule usually keeps me from being home in time to do the cooking.  I also am impatient and forgetful so I tend to walk away from food on the stove or grill and burn the bottom of the pan a lot.
 

6. Paperback or Kindle?

I really enjoy reading on a Kindle or my phone over a paper book.  I've never enjoyed having to hold open a book and deal with reading along the crease and turning pages.  I download everything to my phone now and just read from there (usually while nursing a toddler to sleep).

7.  What would you do if you had a whole afternoon to yourself? (and you weren’t allowed to clean the house)

If I had a whole afternoon to myself cleaning would be the last thing I would think to do.  Ha.  (My husband also does most of the cleaning around here.  I'm a lucky lady.)  Given an entire afternoon free I would probably try to get a little pampered (maybe a pedicure or haircut) and then go to the movies with my husband.

8.  What is your biggest regret?

 I really don't have a lot of regrets in life.  My mother always said that I have to "learn everything the hard way" which is true, so it's not that I haven't made mistakes a long the way because I definitely have.  But I think that I do learn from my mistakes and I have a great life and it's those mistakes and the things that have happened to me that have brought me here.  I can't wish away the bad without wishing away the good so I won't do either.

9.  What was the last book you read? – Honestly!!

I'm currently reading a boring management book for work.  The book I read before that was "The Happiest Toddler on the Block" but like most parenting books I've attempted to read,  I don't think I finished it.  Ha.

10. What is your favourite treat food?

I'm an ice cream/froyo girl.  I could eat ice cream every day.  I contemplate getting pregnant again just to be able to justify it!  ;-)

11. What superpower would you like to have?

I used to think that the ability to fly would be the best superpower to have but now that I'm a mom I think it would be the ability to be in multiple places at the same time!  No more being late for daycare pick-up because a work meeting went over and maybe I could actually help with more of the cooking and cleaning around the house if I could simultaneously be binge watching TV and blogging!


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Thanks again for the nomination, Morna!  To Pay It Forward, I would like to nominate the following blogs:

Captivating Momma: https://captivatingmomma.wordpress.com/

Just Another Dad: http://justanotherdad.com/

What Mummy Did Next: http://whatmymummydidnext.blogspot.com/

Charlie's Upside Down Again: https://charliesupsidedownagain.wordpress.com/


Here are your questions:
  1. Why did you start a blog and what do you want to get out of it?
  2. What is the story behind the name of your blog?
  3. If you could travel to any time - past or future - what would you choose and why?
  4. Morning Person or Night Owl?
  5. Favorite food?  Choose one savory and one sweet.
  6. If given one whole day to yourself with no kids or obligations of any sort - how would you spend it?
  7. What did you want to be when you grew up as a child?
  8. Where is one place that you long to visit and why?
  9. Favorite TV show?
  10. What/Who inspires you?
  11. Describe your blog in five words or less.

For more info about the "rules" of the Liebster Awards click here.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Am I on Candid Camera?



So I was in CVS with FrenchFry (2 year old) today and the chain of events that occurred made me feel like I was in a poorly written sitcom about the follies of mothering young children.  That or I was on a cleverly staged episode of Candid Camera and they somehow got my 2 year old to follow the script perfectly.

First, FrenchFry decided to tell me "these are for you, Momma!"

"New! Just for Bladder Leaks!"

The irony was not lost on me that the majority of women who need the "Always Discreet" (just for bladder leaks) probably do so because of birthing their own little jerk - I mean child.

He proceeded to pull items off the shelf, as two year-olds tend to do.  I know that he lives in a world where everything around him is controlled by others and frequently he is met with the word "no" so I try to give him some freedom where I can.  One place I do that is that I usually let him play and pull items off the shelf as long as he isn't touching anything dangerous or breakable, or making a big mess.  I do require him to put it all back so he learns that he does have to leave things as they were and clean up after himself.

So he pulled off a few boxes of band-aids and then threw them on the ground, which is where I draw the line on poor toddler behavior and decided it was time to have a little positive ("connection based") discussion with him.  I started to talk to him about needing to be careful with things that don't belong to us and that he needed to pick them up and put them back.

Which he responded to by.... kicking them across the aisle.

<Sigh>

At this point my patience was just starting to get tested, which apparently he could pick up on because he decided to kick it up a notch and run away from me down the aisle.  I more sternly ask him to stop and come back to help me pick up the band-aids.  He turned around and (with a twinkle in his eye - I swear I saw it) he started running back towards me and right into the display of bladder leak pads like a line backer on Sundays in the Fall.

Is this really happening?
He continued running... now with a full on giggle.  He was so proud of himself, and I was just stunned.  I couldn't do anything except stand there and laugh.  And take a photo of course because I wasn't sure anyone would believe that this was actually happening.  This was also the point I started to look around and make sure that I wasn't on a bad reality TV show and didn't know it.

I think because I was laughing and scooped him up (before he got away) he got out of defiant toddler mode and really looked at me.  I didn't get upset and I didn't have to - I smiled and asked him to help me pick it all up and he did.  He even picked up the band-aids and helped put them back on the shelf.

The rest of the trip in the store was uneventful and we were able to check out without destroying any more displays or more veiled insinuations about my continence.


Have you ever felt like you were on Candid Camera or were in a bad sitcom because of your child?  

How did you handle it?




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Domestic Momster

Friday, April 10, 2015

You Won't Ruin Them

"I’m not offering you a quick fix solution, I’m not telling you that there is a magic trick to make babies sleep for hours on end, what I’m telling you is that what you are experiencing is normal." (From Hectic and Clueless)

That is a quote from this article on baby sleep has been making the rounds on social media this week and it really struck home with me.  The tone of this article is a little more confrontational than I think I would be myself, but there is also a lot in here I agree with. 
Mostly - I think if something is working for you and your child, then go with it. You won't "ruin" your child's chance at ever sleeping "through the night" - since that appears to be our main goal as early parents if you spend any time on the internet or talking to veteran parents.... you won't ruin them if you nurse or cuddle or rock them to sleep, and I promise you they won't be sleeping in your bed when they are 15 years old. The chances of that happening are less than 0.000000000002% from my non-scientific estimations.
You have 13 years before we kick you out, kid.

There have been rough patches when I did wish for better, more, longer sleep but mostly I have been okay with the way things have (almost) naturally occurred on their own with my FrenchFry's sleep. I nursed him to sleep every night for almost 2 years and would nurse him overnight if he woke up for those same 2 years as well. These are things that I feel almost embarrassed to tell people outside of my close friends for some reason - but it WORKED for us. 
Things usually got much worse when I tried to push him into something that deep down I knew he wasn't ready for yet. And then when I knew he was really ready -like when I night weaned him recently (read about it here: In Defense of Weaning my 2 Year Old) - when I did wait until I knew he was ready it went really well - without a lot of tears or heartache.
Mostly I want you to know that if you are in the midst of it right now - do what feels right and don't let the pressure of everything you read on the Internet - or the parents who forget what it was like to be there with a newborn or had a newborn that was very different than your newborn is and had different needs - don't let that create doubt or second guessing of yourself. And if what you are doing works for YOU, then go with it.
And know that there are people out there who nursed and held and rocked their kid to bed every night long past when they were told it was "okay" to do so.  People nursed overnight past a 2 year birthday who now get pretty great sleep most nights and is starting to missing those middle of the night cuddles a bit more than she thought she would. 
(Though really I always knew I would.)

FrenchFry sleeping in his big boy bed.  Apparently I didn't ruin him!



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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Prisoner of (Toddler) War

As I sneak a piece of pancake from my two year old's plate I feel a slight panic. Is he going to notice?  If he does notice, will he care?  Will this turn into a major meltdown or am I safe?  WHY AM I EVEN TESTING FATE LIKE THIS?

Years before I was a parent myself, a good friend of mine told me how she once peeled an orange for her husband and as she started to hand a piece to him, she went into a state of pure panic as she realized she hadn't first asked if he wanted it peeled and pulled apart. As you have probably guessed - she lived with a toddler at the time.  That story was a glimpse into how volatile the little buggers could be for me.

Of course I didn't really, fully understand this until I had a toddler of my own.  Lately we have been dealing with the emotions that turning two seems to bring.  Those BIG emotions.  FrenchFry (2 year old) is actually probably pretty laid back for a toddler - he's always been a generally happy baby/kid - but that doesn't mean that we don't have regular meltdowns these days.



Some days (or really just part of the day in most cases) it seems like my toddler is a ticking time bomb, and I just don't know what might set him off.  I'm careful not to use certain words (for example: "yogurt," unless I'm prepared to let him slurp down four more Gogurts in one sitting) or make any sudden movements.... yes - sometimes just innocently moving your fork can set them off - WHY DID YOU MOVE THAT FORK?!?! <SOB>.

Sometimes you are the parent who has been there for the lead up to the "verge of a meltdown"...   maybe you just talked the toddler down from a scary, BIG emotions place and are carefully walking on eggshells... making sure not to trigger him and then your partner walks in.... and, of course, they say the EXACT wrong thing for that exact moment, like: "Oh look!  Breakfast time!"

WHY WOULD YOU MENTION BREAKFAST JUST BECAUSE WE ARE EATING BREAKFAST RIGHT NOW?!?!?!!

Ugh...  Meltdown City (Population: 1 Cranky French Fry).

Sometimes I wonder if we parents have a form of Stockholm Syndrome. Or maybe it's that biological imperative that keeps us falling back to feelings of good will for our little captors.  That or the cuteness... there is definitely an evolutionary reason that babies and young children are so darn cute.

That cuteness will get you every time!  (Just don't take one of those pancake pieces.)

Being the parent of a toddler takes a lot of patience.  It's also immensely rewarding.  All of these big emotions (that are sometimes hard to handle or even understand) are also why we get so many good hugs and snuggle time during this phase.  I can't get enough of his super awesome two year old snuggles.  It's amazing to watch your child's brain develop right before your eyes (well, not literally... that would be pretty weird).

My two year old blows my mind every day with what he learns, the things he says and the big feelings he has - negative or positive.  Though sometimes it's hard not to get a little shell shocked by all of these BIG emotions flying around when you have a toddler in your home.

Still... the cuteness... and those snuggles...



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Friday, March 20, 2015

It Takes a Village...

It Takes a Village..

For me to pee apparently.

Every time I go into the bathroom my toddler and our dog have to follow me in there. FrenchFry (toddler) can be in the middle of an intense puzzle session and not have uttered my name for twenty minutes but the second I sneak off to the bathroom he's running down the hall yelling "Mommy!" and busting right in. And for some unknown reason the dog is usually right behind him.

My "Village" knows nothing of privacy... but they are cute.


If I do actually make it into the bathroom alone then you'll find me sitting there long after I'm done taking a break from my little "village" and catching up on my Facebook and Twitter or maybe this blog.  Yes I take my iPhone into the bathroom just like everyone else does - I just admit to it.

Just five minutes of no one repeating my name over and over can feel like a mini vacation.  It's funny how much we push and are excited for them to say our names for the first time and then well... it can get a little old sometimes.

I started out as "Momma" when FrenchFry was around um... hrm, I may need to consult the baby book on that one (if I filled that part out).  Eventually "Momma" morphed into "Mommy" which was somehow even better.  Recently though my name has become "MommyMOMmyMOMMY!!!!" in a high pitched tone which just doesn't have the same sweet ring as the first few times my name rolled off his sweet little baby lips.

Before I became pregnant with my son, my biggest fear was that I would regret giving up my independence.  I lived on my own for many years and bought a house by myself before my husband and I lived together.  Independence and a sense of freedom have always been very important to me, and it was scary to think of giving that up.  For me, it was hard to imagine what it would be like to be a parent before I had my son.  Intellectually I knew that it would be rewarding but it was hard to imagine such intangible benefits without actually having been a parent.  It was much easier for me to imagine the very real and tangible things that I did have in my life that would in many ways go away once we had a child.

Yes, when you are a mom you do give up most (all?) of that independence and freedom.  And while I haven't peed by myself very often in the privacy of my own home in the past two years... I don't regret it for a second.  Since the day that FrenchFry was born, I haven't wanted to be too far from him for very long.  In part it may be because I work outside of the home that I am always wanting more quality time with him.  Or maybe it's because one of my top Languages of Love is just that - quality time.  (You can read more about my and my husband's love languages here). 

I wouldn't give up being a mom for the world.  Though I still wouldn't mind peeing without the village a little more often...

Yeah... it's worth it.



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Monday, March 16, 2015

We Went Tent Camping with a 2 Year Old... and Survived!

So after months of cajoling, I finally got (forced) my husband to agree to go camping with me and our two year old.  Unfortunately, the state park we wanted to go to was flooded out so we made a last minute call to the first close campground that Google found and they had a site available!  Actually - they had all their "sites" available since I'm pretty sure no one actually goes to this place to camp on purpose but we'll get to that in a moment.

The Brave Campers

We pulled all of our camping stuff out of the shed then ran around to a few stores including Dick's Sporting Goods with a disgruntled toddler who proclaimed "I don't want any Dicks!!!" while we carried him in.  Ahem.  Yeah, that's not at all embarrassing.  After letting him pull as many flashlights off the shelf as he wanted while we found a tarp and a grate for cooking over the fire, he calmed down, we checked out, and were all set for our trip.

We got on the road and after a quick hour and fifteen minutes we found ourselves at Lizard Creek Campground.  We were greeted by the owner, who we knew immediately was the "jolly old man with the white hair and potbelly" from the one review on Yelp I read before we headed out that way.  Usually I do a lot more research on these types of things but this was plan B and I didn't want to give my husband any excuse to back out so I made the executive decision to book the place without checking into it too much.  And it worked out..... mostly.

Jolly old, potbellied man took us over to our campsite, which was about 20 yards from the row of RV's parked ten across who would be our only neighbors that night.  It wasn't really roughing it given we were under the orange glow of the RV camp lights, but it was roughing it enough that it was filled with perils for a two year old.

Welcome to Toddler Death Island...  I mean - our campsite.  And really it wasn't a Death Island, as much as it was a Death Peninsula. 

Toddler Death Peninsula

We were surrounded on three sides by water - deep river water (bayou?) on two sides and a creepy creature filled swamp on the third.  And of course the RV's to our back.  We definitely had a moment where we questioned whether this was still a good idea.  Not to disparage, but the whole thing had a bit of a back woods feel that us city folk weren't quite ready for.  We were ready for nature and the woods but not like the BACK WOODS, ya know?

Honestly though, we had a blast with it being only psuedo-primitive camping.  It was probably a good first step into camping with our son without actually being too far from some sort of civilization.  We did a pretty good job of packing (we have a camping tupperware we created years ago that provides most of the basics) but we forgot beer for the adults so it was nice for my husband to be able to run down to the mini-mart and get a six pack for after FrenchFry went to sleep.  It was a good test run and we are going to try to get back out in the next couple of weeks for a full weekend a little farther away.  We definitely have a few lessons learned under our belt for the next trip.

A few things we will do a little differently next time:

1. Do more research!

Distracting FrenchFry while putting up the tent so he wouldn't jump into the body of water directly behind him.

Next time I will definitely ask if our camp site will be on Toddler Death Island or Peninsula or Isle... or any other setting that is dangerously close to waterways, nuclear waste dump sites or orange-glowing RV Parks.

2.  Inventory the camping gear before the day of the trip.

Bacon and eggs took a bit longer without any cookware so FrenchFry enjoyed some cereal while we worked through that.

We were definitely missing some of the essentials and even more of the extra conveniences we would have liked to have had.  We were missing cookware and utentsils though we made due with plastic cutlery and aluminum foil.  I meant to bring extra pants for FrenchFry but somehow they didn't make it into the bag.  He did of course make it into the big puddle of mud TWICE requiring us to scramble and find an emergency pair of pants in the bottom of the diaper bag (only one size too small).

I also thought of things we should have had with us like some Benadryl since we don't know what, if any, types of allergies FrenchFry may develop and wouldn't want to be out in the woods without it.

3. Bring more toys/activities.

FrenchFry giving us a reprieve from chasing him from dangers by reading Pout Pout Fish in the tent.

 FrenchFry was pretty entertained by running around (scaring the crap out of us) and helping us collect sticks for firewood, but there were a few moments where it would have been good to have a more reliable source of entertainment for him.  We were also only gone for less than 24 hours so next time on a longer trip we will likely need more than just a few books and his harmonica to get through.


And the thing that we did right:

1.  We made the best of it!


Woke up like this - in a tent.  Take that Beyonce!


In spite of the campground not being exactly what we expected or having all the right gear with us, we had a blast.  We remembered how to put up our tent with getting into an argument (marriage WIN), we taught FrenchFry how to swing on a big kid swing for the first time, we looked at the stars while we held hands with FrenchFry on my lap and we ate S'mores.  What more could you ask for?

FrenchFry and Momma by the campfire.








Have you taken your kids camping?  How young were they when they first stayed in a tent?

Any other advice for our next trip to the woods?  Share your comments below.




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