Dear Mainstream News: We’re Breaking Up

Dear Mainstream Media Outlets,

We have to break up.  You and I, we had a great go, didn’t we? I had a genuine interest in you, and most of the time that interest felt reciprocated.  But at the risk of sounding like every bad rom com break up cliche, we have to break up – it’s not you, its me.  I’ve grown, found myself, and the new me just doesn’t see her future with you in it.  At least not right now.  Maybe one day in the future we’ll meet up again and rekindle our magic, finding that we can once again meet each other’s needs. But until then, I’m going to have to walk away.  I’ll try my best to explain myself.

I’m a mom.  I have been for nearly two years now, and every day since becoming one, I’ve felt myself slipping farther and farther away from you.  It’s not you. You’ve held up your end of the deal.  Well, most of you. You continue to keep on keepin’ on, presenting the latest news from around the globe every single day without fail.  The good, the bad, and the ugly. You always show up.  Sometimes with integrity.  Sometimes not. But no one is perfect, right? I just can no longer pull my weight in our relationship.  I have nothing left to give.  I’ve got nothing left in the tank.  You see, I’m a mom now.

Back when I was young, wild, and yet to start a family I could consume you without missing a beat.  I had you on all of my devices, checked in with you religiously, and had a strong desire to stay current on all happenings in this world that surrounded me.  I can no longer be that girl. I tried, believe me. For two years I’ve been trying to be that girl. But there’s no going back. I’m a mom now.

One of the little secrets no one told me before becoming a mom is that the depths of my heart would reach levels I never knew possible.  So deep, and so wide, I’m not sure how to accommodate it anymore.  It’s too heavy.  Too much to bare. I feel too much.  And I just can’t carry it all. Everything you show me affects me in ways I have no longer have control over.  Every story. Every heartbreak.  Every life gone too soon. And god forbid, every single injustice, mistreatment, or tragedy that involves a child.

I’m a mom now.  It’s all too close to home.  I can no longer separate myself and my family from what I read.  And there’s just too many of those stories.  Far too many. Every time I read one of your articles about a young child abused in unspeakable ways by those she was supposed to be able to trust.  Every time a newborn is quite literally thrown away like they are part of the garbage. Every time children are forced to flee their homes and become refugees in fear of rebels terrorizing their community. Every single time there is a story about a child that is hurt, lost, mistreated, trafficked, used, beaten, kidnapped, neglected, or any of the other thousand verbs that that should never happen comes into my awareness – it consumes me.  I see those children as if they were my own.  And I see my own in those children.  The lump immediately travels up my throat as the rip simultaneously makes its way across my heart.  My legs feel unstable, and my stomach tightens into a ball.  And if I’m somehow able to make it to the end of the article, I can guarantee you there will be tears.

It doesn’t consume me for the ten minutes following.  I carry it for far too long. I still can’t get past the kid at the library who stiff armed my daughter in the head over ten months ago, let alone all the stories from this summer about young children left to die alone in their overheated vehicles.  I see them in my own children, and they show up in my dreams.  I can’t even talk about the things I feel for the parents of these children. It hurts too much and I keep trying to make sense of things that I know will never make sense.  They can’t make sense.  In no world I want to live in should these things ever make sense.

I imagine their fear. Their loneliness.  I imagine their scared uncertainty. Their hopelessness.  Their pain.  Their fear. Oh, the fear.  I want to swoop in and pick every single one of them up, showering them with the love, attention, and the safe environment they so deserve to live in.  I want to reassure them all that every tomorrow will be okay because I’ll be here. I want them to know their worth and potential, and that they will always have someone cheering them on.  I want to read to them while rubbing their back before gently tucking them in at night so they can peacefully dream about snowmen, cookies, their friends, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. But I can’t. It’s not possible.  They aren’t mine.  I don’t even know them.

Don’t worry, I haven’t allowed these stories to completely dampen my faith in humanity or turn my heart black.  For every tragedy I read, I know there are a million more people out there bringing comfort and joy to the lives of our littles.  I know this because I try every day in my own ways to be one, and I see all the good every single day in the hundreds of moms and teachers I am connected with.  But for now, at this moment in my life when my heart is working overtime trying to make room for this ever-growing and burning love I have for my own children, we just need to take a break.

Don’t worry, I won’t be negligent to shut myself off from you completely. People need to know the truths from around the world so brave men and women can act on it, and do their part to spread a little more love in this world that desperately needs it. We need to be exposed to the dark so we know where to spread our light.  I just can’t give you what I used to, and I hope you understand.

I told you – its not you, its me.  You see, I’m a mom now.

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Why You Won’t See Me With My Kids When You’re Visiting

Yesterday was the day.  We officially got back into the grind after a wonderful holiday season as a family of four.  My husband went back to work after two glorious weeks at home, our gauntlet of family Christmases and get-togethers came to a screeching halt, and I was flying solo again with our two vibrant munchkins.  While it definitely felt good to get back into our routine, a tiny part of me couldn’t help but mourn all the help I had over the past month.  You see, when we’re around family and friends, I get to sort of quietly slink back to the sidelines and allow our loved ones to take center stage – whether they realize it or not.  Sometimes I wonder if our family and friends ever question my mothering ability.  After all, when they’re here, I’m usually on the couch with a glazed over smile, letting others willingly attend to most of the needs and wants of my kids.  If that’s been you at one time or another, please know I’m not completely checked out of my parenting duties.  Every want and need is carefully and quietly observed, and my legs are on constant standby ready to jump up for instances only mom can handle.  But for several reasons, I’m letting you take the lead.

If you’re visiting with us, it means you’re an important part of our life, and therefore an important part of our children’s lives. Proximity isn’t a luxury we have when it comes to family and friends.  If we’re together, it means it took effort, planning, and may not happen again for awhile.  I want our kids to know you, to see your picture and shout your name, and to feel comfortable the second you walk in the door instead of hiding behind my legs.  So when my daughter pulls your hand into her playroom for the 72nd time in an hour, I’m going to let her.  I want her to have that bonding time with you – whether you’re secretly just wanting to sit on the couch or not. 🙂 Thanks for being a trooper and letting yourself get silly!

I’m learning and observing while watching you play with my kids. Yes – I’m learning from you.  Sure, I’m the mom and I arguably know my children better than anyone on the planet.  I know the things that make their drums beat and their hearts flutter, but you get to come in and see them with fresh eyes.  You always seem to spot the toys we haven’t pulled out in awhile, the books that need to be read with some new gusto, and the dance moves we’ll now be adding to our repertoire. Your style of play, the way you manipulate toys, the things you do to make them laugh, and ways you challenge them are all being carefully cataloged into my mental filing system. Spending all day everyday with them can cause some ruts I’m oblivious to, so you bring a new light into our house that I’m thankful for.  Quite frankly, I envy this fresh and limitless energy you come in with. Players gonna play, play, play!

Despite common belief, mothers don’t always like to hold their babies all day everyday.  How dare I say it, but its true! No one loves cuddle time more than me, and no one loves breathing in my sweet baby in my arms more than I do, but I do it for endless hours every single day.  By holding my son for awhile, you’re giving me a little time to feel human again.  I get to pee without juggling a “I’ll only sleep in your arms right now” baby.  I get to drink coffee.  HOT.  I get to sit without rocking and swaying back and forth (until I subconsciously do it anyway).  I get to put a little makeup on without having to sing and dance so baby stays entertained. I get to make a meal that will take longer than three minutes to prepare.  It gives me a little “me” time, and for that I am so grateful.

My kids need to know others can take care of their needs as well.  I stay home with both of my kids. As a result, they don’t get the same levels of interactions with other caregivers and children that daycare children do.  We go to play dates, classes, and play places so they can flex their social muscles, but I also want them to know that at times other adults will need to take care of them outside of mom and dad, and that’s OK.  So when you feed our daughter, put our son to bed, or give them a bath to help out, you’re not only doing us a favor – but you’re doing them a favor, too.  They learn to trust their loved ones and know their needs will be met.  You may not do it exactly like we do, but that’s OK, too.  No judgment here – your way keeps them flexible!

If you’re one of the ones who shies away from anything related to our kids while you’re here – that’s OK in my book, too.  Having you around is all we really want anyway. Come join me on the couch. 🙂

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