Finding My Level Of Busyness

There was once a time when I equated how much you cram into each day with how good of a stay at home mom you were. Being home with your kids is your job, so therefore to be good at your job, you must have lots to show for each day. I wanted our daughter to start swim class as early as they allowed her. I never wanted to miss a Story Time at the library. Every day had to have outings. Between the museum or classes or play dates or errands or playgrounds or pet stores or open gyms or splash parks or dog parks – we were busy. So I was a good stay at home mom.

Until I wasn’t.

When my sweet little sidekick turned eleven months old we found out she would be blessed with a younger sibling. The further into the pregnancy I got, the more exhausted I became. My back was giving out on me. My hips were giving out on me. And the frustration I felt from not being able to stay at my daughter’s daily pace slowly ate me alive. I felt like I was failing her but couldn’t do anything about it. I was forced to learn to slow down. I was forced to stay in some days. For the whole day. Frequently. I was forced to find new adventures in or close to our home and to reinvent toys that were already in her playroom.

We eventually moved from a pregnancy induced slow down to a “I have a newborn and a toddler” slow down. From there, it moved to a “it’s way too fricking cold out” slow down. Helloooo, Michigan winters. Then one day I read a normal weekly schedule of a fellow mom friend and was quickly reminded of the busier lifestyle we used to grind out once upon a time. Except this time, I no longer felt like I was a bad stay at home mom. When I really paused to reflect on these “slow downs” that used to annoy me to no end, I began to notice something…

We no longer rushed through breakfast. We would take time to make a good breakfast together, sit down, and enjoy it. No more, “You need to hurry and finish up, please!”.  

Getting myself ready in the morning wasn’t met with resentment.  It used to be I either woke up at 5:30 a.m. for a little alone time, or I would get easily irritated with Tayler as she was somehow always in my way.  Now instead of getting up at 5:30 I pull Harrison into bed with me and cuddle him till both kids wake up.  Now instead of fighting Tayler to let me get ready, I let her join me and she puts on my blush and lipstick.  

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I had time to actually play with the kids in the morning. It wasn’t rush to make breakfast, rush to make them eat it, rush to get diapers changed, snacks packed, bags organized, dogs let out, and car ready. If things weren’t rushed, we would never get out the door in time to do stuff before it was time to come back for nap time.  

I had more me time, which made me a better mom.  If we had more time at home where I was engaged with the kids, I felt less guilty letting them play independently and take some time to do things for myself. Maybe get in a workout as I watched them play.  Sit and write a few of thoughts that were playing on repeat in my head. Catching up a little on the previous day’s Ellen.  A little me time made me feel better about myself.  Happy and healthy mom, happy and healthy kids. 

I was more present. We started making a lot of fun activities and crafts together.  Playing with her farm animals could go on for hours and it was OK. If our play took us in a new direction, we were able to explore it. I had more time to be there, in the moment, and be her partner in crime. 

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We had a little down time and a little boredom. Kids don’t need to be stimulated 24/7. And like adults, they need some down time to recharge.  I didn’t feel guilty about watching a movie every now and then.  They were filled with playing with each other’s hair, snuggling tight, and enjoying being in each other’s arms. She is the BEST, most affectionate snuggler. Every now and then we’d get bored. There’s beauty in boredom, though.  It fuels creativity and her independent play broadened. 

Outings began to feel exciting again, and a lot less like a chore. That feeling of monotony was replaced by the lost feeling of fun spontaneity.  If we went out, it was because we really wanted to. Not because I felt like we had to.  It had been awhile since we’d been to our giant pet store, and it was like seeing the animals new again.  

I was more patient. I let her put on her own shoes. Even if it took 45 minutes.  I let her help pick out her clothes in the morning instead of me quickly grabbing something. I would willingly fulfill her “1,000 hugs before 9 a.m.” quota without getting frustrated. My words were more deliberate, my tone stayed more calm, and I said “yes” a hell of a lot more than I said “no, not right now”.

I started to become what I now know is a better mom. Every mom has different levels of “busyness” that works for her. Some are genuinely more content and happy with a full schedule.  Some thrive off daily engagements. Some thrive off some. And some thrive off none.  For the first time I had begun to realize that THIS was the level of busyness that made ME the best version of a mom I could be. Once I got over thinking we had to have a long list of extra curricular activities to learn and thrive, we began to really learn and thrive.  

Please don’t misunderstand; we aren’t hermits.  We still go the museum.  We still run errands. We still go to the library. We still have play dates.  And fingers crossed for a Story Time reappearance next week.  I just don’t let it all consume us. If we are having a bad morning, I no longer force us to leave anyway and then get frustrated when it ends in a public tantrum.  I’ll whip up a fort, play Frozen (again), and snuggle the bad moods out of all of us.

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Whatever level of busyness you operate best at, don’t be scared to live there. In no way, shape, or form does it have any equivalency to the quality of mother you are.  

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The Perfect 10

If you’ve ever run a long distance race you know the feeling.  You’ve spent countless hours training for this race.  Blood, sweat, tears, and pushing your body to its limits all for this one moment.  You think you’re ready.  As ready as you’re going to be.  The gun shot sounds and you’re off to do what you came here to do.  The race is physically grueling and demanding, making you question if you have enough fuel in your tank to finish it. But you expected this. You’re mentally prepared.  You’ve rehearsed this a million times in your head. Once you get over the fact that your legs no longer feel like they belong to you, you see it.  The finish line.  This gorgeous sight to behold finally peeking over the horizon.

Then it hits.  That rush of energy and adrenaline rushes over you like a tidal wave.  While your body should be sputtering out of gas, this wave has kicked you into a gear you didn’t know you had. It’ll be short lived, so you take advantage and leave every last ounce you can muster out on that track.  Finish hard. Finish strong. This is it. 

I’ve replayed the moments before my son’s birth in my head countless times since he graced us with his presence four months ago.  I still revel in it, allowing myself to go back there and feel the purest form of excitement and anticipation.  I’ve been known to cry happy tears a time or two in the shower as I stood there reminiscing it.

My first child was a planned cesarean section breech baby.  We found out at thirty two weeks she still hadn’t flipped and I knew in that moment she wasn’t going to.  One of those mom instincts.  Regardless, I tried some home remedies to flip her and she still refused.  Twenty four hours before her birth appointment she put me into labor.  Things progressed hard and fast, and the whole thing was really quite a blur.  We had our appointment so ingrained in our head that we hadn’t even packed bags yet. Not only that, but we had to switch hospitals as there was no way I would make it to the one we intended. I remember being wheeled in agony to the OR, and then my next real vivid memory was when I got to look across the room and see this six pound thirteen ounce piece of perfection my husband and I created.  The actual birth was a little lost on me.

When I became pregnant with our son eleven months later we had some decisions to make with my doctors.  Do we go ahead with another cesarean? A process I now understand and would know what to expect. Or if our little man cooperated, do we go for a vaginal after cesarean? Another completely new birth experience. Many personal factors went into our decision, as it does with every mom who has to make it, but we chose to go for the vaginal. Go big or go home, right?

I felt like a first time mom again.  Everything I had learned the first time around appeared to have left me and I was learning all over again. Ring of fire? Got it. Meditation breathing? Got it. Push like you’re trying to have a bowel movement? Got it. I was ready to go to battle and do whatever I needed to do to make sure baby and I stayed healthy and safe. I had rehearsed it a million times over in my head.

I’ll skip the whole labor portion of my story.  You know what happens here. It’s terrible. It’s miserable. I screamed offensive things I didn’t mean and I blamed the man that did this to me. I was sure this is how I would die.

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My husband said I got the epidural right before he was certain my eyes were going to roll back in my head. I would’ve married the woman who gave it to me had she let me. After a few hours of relaxed and restful progress, the nurse came in and brought the news we had been waiting for.  It was a perfect 10 centimeters. 

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Of all the things I did anticipate, I did not anticipate how I wold feel in that moment. I thought I would be too exhausted, too tired, and in too much pain to care. You see, I thought the warm elation would only engulf me when my son was actually on the outside and in my arms. But it started now.  Here. At the perfect 10. As the nurse went to call the medical team that would deliver our son, I laid there trying to stay afloat over this flood of joyous emotion. I flashed back to the day we found out we were pregnant with him, desperately trying to keep it a secret until my husband got home from work. To the deepened bond I felt with our daughter as she started to take interest in my growing baby bump and began to gently care for her baby dolls in preparation. To the day we found out we were blessed with a boy in the middle of a blue silly string fight. I flashed to the sleepless nights due to my hips, my back, and my mind that wouldn’t stop thinking about how I was going to juggle two on my own while giving them both everything they need. The last few weeks of pregnancy were so fresh in my mind. My body had enough and every single day was a monumental struggle just to make it to bedtime with my toddler and I in one piece. All of this hard work had culminated into this one moment.

This was my sprint to the finish. When my body should’ve been sputtering out of gas, this was my body taking me to a gear I didn’t know I had. I knew it would be short lived, so I took full advantage and gave it every last ounce I could muster.  I had rounded the last turn and I saw that glorious finish line. (My husband saw it too. Probably a little too much of it :). After twenty three minutes of sheer determination to meet my son, I had made it. This marathon of a pregnancy was over. I had finished hard. I had finished strong.  And no matter where I placed, I was surely the winner here.

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Over these last four months I’ve thought often about that moment I had made it to ten. While it is a vivid memory I know I’ll keep with me forever, I can’t help but smile.  This stunning little man in my arms…he is the perfect 10. 

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New Moms: I Give You Permission

Ok let’s just start with the obvious here.  You surely don’t need my permission. Frankly, you don’t need anyone’s permission.  But if you’re wired similar to how I am, as a new mom it might feel that way sometimes.  I mean, they just give you this baby at the hospital, you put it in the car, and then its just… yours? To do what you want with and hope you don’t mess it up?

You see I grew up one of those first born, adult pleasing, rule following, scared to get in trouble kind of girls (except for that stretch in middle school – yikes!).  Not that I don’t have my own original thoughts or won’t stray off the beaten path when necessary, but I generally don’t like to rock the boat too much and prefer to do things the “right” way.  So as a new mom (and sometimes still!), I feel like I need to hear from someone, anyone, its OK to do things a certain way.  In my gut I know I’m right.  Hello, I’m the mom here!  But the truth is, it still feels good when you see someone, knowingly or not, give you the green light to do things a specific way.

Now please understand that I’m not intending to make any of your concerns seem silly.  This is not one of those times when an experienced mom looks down from her high horse and chuckles at how new to this you are for worrying about something. Girlfriend, every worry is valid as a new mom. But before you go worrying too much or wondering if you’re totally botching this one shot with this gorgeous tiny human, I will gladly be the one to give you that permission.  Trust me, its ok!

I give you permission to… 

Not use a nursing cover if you don’t want to.  While this one obviously relates to your own personal level of comfort and depends on the setting for which you’re nursing, if you don’t want to sweat with your baby as you try to keep it in place while keeping baby happily latched – DON’T! And don’t you dare feel like you have to run to your car or hide in a bathroom if you’re out and about. If you want to – absolutely. But don’t be shamed into anything. You are literally feeding another human with your body, which in my book means you have super powers. My rule at home is: my home, my boobs, my baby.  If you don’t want to see him eating lunch, don’t look! Or you can eat your lunch at my kitchen table with a bag over your head.  Because that’d be the same. And it’d be pretty frickin’ funny.

Use the same sippy cup for awhile.  If I used a new cup every time my toddler wanted something new to drink, I’d need an entire cupboard dedicated to her cups and I’d be a slave to the dishwasher. Don’t be a slave to the dishwasher.  When she’s done, throw that puppy right back in the fridge and pull it out later.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.  (Just don’t let things sit out for 18 hours and then try to reuse it.  Because then she could get sick.  And ain’t nobody really got time for that either).

Use your breast pump parts a few times before washing. Let’s just go ahead and piggy back off the one above. Use your pump, put the parts in a clean bag, put it in the fridge, and repeat for up to 24 hours. Thorough cleaning after that, but don’t kill yourself every single time! You are not a slave to your pump. Don’t be a slave to your pump.

Put on your face and tame that mop every day.  Some days I don’t get to this one till 3:00 p.m., but let me tell you – making yourself feel a little pretty, whether that means putting on a little make up, styling your hair, or simply washing your face is a game changer.  Do it every day.  Do it even if no one except the babies are going to see you. Take that time for yourself.  It makes a difference, trust me.

Keep baby in the same clothes if its just a little spit up.  So her shirt has a little wet spot.  Wipe it up, and move on.  It won’t be the first and certainly not the last time a little something gets on her clothes.  If its not going to make her uncomfortable, its not a sanitation risk, and its not going to stain if its remnants stay for a little while – leave it.  You’d be a slave to your washing machine. Don’t be a slave to your washing machine.

One or two cups of coffee.  Pregnant or nursing. Everyone will be just fine.  Maybe half and half makes you feel better.  That’s fine too.  Everything in moderation.  Don’t take this as permission to pony up to the espresso bar and imitate spring break of ’03 here.  But one or two cups – you’ve got bigger concerns than that.

Pick that teething toy or paci up and (gasp) wipe it off and put it back in baby’s mouth.  Whoa.. relax.  If it fell in a pile of dog poop or got stepped on or fell in a public bathroom, or any bathroom, you bet I’d be cleaning that thing up.  But use good judgment, keep a pack of paci wipes in your bag for emergencies, and don’t sweat every time it drops.  Truth is, if baby gets to it before you, its going right back in that little mouth anyway. Just suck those germs off and pop it back in. Seriously.

Lay baby down and take a shower. There will be days a shower is your saving grace.  The hot water has actual healing powers. Fact. So if you are dying to take a shower, take one. If baby is fed, dry, and safe in his crib, lay him down and take a shower.  Albeit he may be pissed, but he’ll be ok.  A happy and healthy mom means a happy and healthy baby.  So if you want to stand in that glorious box of hot water goodness, you better get in there dammit!

Don’t stress out and run when baby cries in public. It’s going to happen. Repeat that with me. It’s going to happen. Your baby will lose their freaking mind in public at some point. Or a lot of points. And sometimes there’s not much you can do.  Half the people who are witnessing it have had kids and should understand.  And the ones who give you a dirty look, well, karma is a relentless bitch.  Whether its because baby isn’t feel well or its because you’re sticking your ground in a teachable moment – don’t sweat it.  And if you see this happening to another mom in public, its in the mom handbook to give her that smile and nod that says, “I feel you sister. You’re doing a great job”.  IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN.

Not change the crib sheets for a few weeks. It happens. You’ve got a lot on your mind. The world will keep spinning and baby will keep sleeping. Promise. Better yet, take one out of a fellow mom’s playbook, and put a few sheets on the crib. One gets soiled, rip it off and there’s a clean one underneath!

Turn away visitors. You’ve probably heard and read this one a million times already so I won’t dive into it, but you’ve heard and read it a million times for good reason.  Take care of yourself.

Keep baby in the same clothes for a few days. Its easy to fall into this time warped trap that is your home when you are a new mom. If all of a sudden you wake up and realize baby has worn the same jammies for three days, no one cares. It’s all good, darlin! Maybe try a new outfit, today? And no, it doesn’t have to match.  You don’t have to memorize every Carter’s matching set you were gifted.

Keep yourself in the same clothes for a few days. OK I wanted to be clever and have this match the one above it. The more I think about it though, your clothes are most likely pretty gnarly.  Whether its night sweats because your hormones can’t decide where they want to level, breast milk that has streamed down your stomach repeatedly, spit up, or baby snot you’ve wiped with your sleeve repeatedly…scratch this one.  Change your damn clothes. Chill.. I didn’t say you had to shower, too.  🙂

Cry.  Seriously. I’m giving you permission to cry guilt free. Because if you’re anything like me, you’ll do it six times a day during the first month (cough, cough – year). Don’t try and fight it. Don’t try and mask it. You let that shit flow and ugly cry your ass off.  Cry because you’re happy. Cry because baby smiled at you.  Cry because you’re overwhelmed. Cry because you finally got through your first postpartum poop.  Cry because its a Tuesday.  Just do it.  You’ll feel better.

Cry because you clipped baby’s skin while clipping her nails. Yeah yeah I just said ‘cry’ above. This one is separate because everyone has done it and everyone loses their marbles when it happens. Their tiny finger bleeds what seems like their body weight, and it won’t stop. You’ll be hysterical, but I’m telling you – its fine.

Feel nerves about leaving your house with baby the first few times.  The first time I left with my first child I had packed a bag for the end of the world and walked her what I felt like at the time was 12 miles to the store.  Turns out it was 0.2 miles, and I still laugh at myself to this day.  The first few times are nerve wrecking.  Do it anyway.  You’ll get better every single time. 

Have a glass of wine or a beer while breastfeeding. Yes, while breastfeeding. It won’t get into the milk yet and it starts your “two hours per drink” timer at the earliest possible moment. Sometimes you need that grigio baby! But no, the wine pours you got accustomed to when you were 24 don’t count. Standard pour, sweetheart. I would post a pretty epic picture I have of myself doing this, but I don’t think anyone wants to see my areola. And if you do, I don’t want to show you, because that’s weird.

Shake it off if no monthly pictures get taken on the actual day. 30 years from now when your precious babe looks back at this beautiful book of baby pictures you made for him, he won’t be able to tell if his 9 month picture was taken one day before he turned 10 months (or if you forgot all together and slapped a 9 month, then 10 month, and then an 11 month sticker on a 12 month old baby with a few outfit changes) . It still counts. And you won’t tell the difference either.  High five, mom. You rock for trying to capture these elusive monthly pictures. By elusive, I mean good luck after they start sitting and crawling. 🙂 Don’t be a slave to the 12th of every month.

Shop Mom to Mom Sales and buy Christmas presents at a second hand store.  Fun fact: kids’ interests change fast and their bodies grow even faster. I think Tayler wore a new outfit every single day when she was in 3 month clothes, and not even all of her 3 month clothes got worn.  If Kate Middleton can recycle outfits, so can my kids, dammit. She’s not a princess! Not only do they grow out of clothes insanely fast, but half the ones they do wear usually get caked in some sort of bodily fluid at some point. You don’t have to buy $30 baby pants just so they can contain a blowout.  My $3 used once Baby Gap pants from a Mom to Mom do the same thing for 230% less money.  And kids don’t need a ton of toys anyway.  Get out your Clorox wipes or vinegar mixture and shine up a used toy that looks new for a quarter of the price.  Your child will NEVER know, and neither will your friends who come over for play dates.  Unless you tell them, because its awesome. Put your money towards your children’s college fund or for some fun classes if you feel like makin’ it rain. Don’t be a slave to keepin’ up with the Joneses.

Drop the kids off. Take the day off. Tell NO ONE. OK, tell your spouse if you want. But you need a personal day sometimes.  Take those kids to their day care and go home for a nap.  Eat a bowl of popcorn while binge watching Parenthood on Netflix and crying over how you wish you were the Bravermans. Get a pedicure. Take care of yourself. Remember: happy and healthy mom means happy and healthy baby.  No one needs to know.

Be sad. Not every moment of motherhood is like the commericals. Not even the Huggies ones. There will be moments of loneliness, sadness, confusion, despair, anxiety, worry, insecurity, and that ‘feel like you’re drowning and can’t come up for air fast enough’ kind of feeling. It’s normal.  And it is not a reflection of you as a mother.  It’s a reflection of chemicals in your body and some major effing life changes all at once.  I give you permission to ride out, embrace, and allow yourself to feel these things.  What I don’t give you permission to do, however, is harbor them all yourself and not seek help or talk to anyone.  Ask for help. Talk to someone. Anyone. Email me if need be.  Seriously.

Not feel the pressure that surrounds us moms constantly. Thanks a lot, Pinterest. We all have our thing. We all embrace different stages, different ages, and different areas of motherhood differently.  YOU are the best person in the entire world to be your child’s mother.  YOU are giving that baby everything he needs simply by loving him as fiercely as you do.  You will grow just as fast as he does.  You will reach a point where you feel comfortable in your mom skin.  You will learn that if it is what is best for you and baby, then that is all you need to know.

I give you permission…

to not feel any need to get permission. 🙂

— As always, a quick thank you to my honest and witty Momtourage. You didn’t think I wanted permission for all of these things on my own did you?! 🙂 — 

The Doggone Truth

Oh boy. I’ve had this one on the back burner for quite some time now.  Quite some time, as in nearly a year.  I didn’t know if I was the only one.  I didn’t know how to put it without sounding heartless and cruel.  I don’t really have a solution or end game for this one other than, “this is how I feel about it”. And I really wasn’t sure if anyone else would be able to relate.  After all, scroll your Facebook feed and if its not people obsessed with babies, food, or Crossfit – its dogs.

I’m nervous.  I can just hear the scoffs and the, “I would NEVER feel that way about our dog”, and the, “This lady should not be procreating if she feels this way about her dogs”.  I can hear it because I’ve seen it.  Not long ago I was scrolling my own Facebook feed and a friend had commented on this post that popped up.  The title immediately peaked my interest. If you want me to save you a minute, its written by mom voicing with brave honesty how her relationship with her dog changed once she had kids.  Brave. Honesty. I read the article and felt a weight lifted off my shoulders.  I wasn’t the sole mother out there who was struggling with the relationship she had with her fur babes.  That light feeling was immediately replaced by a punch to the gut, however, when this woman I felt connected to was incessantly bashed in the comments.  People crucified her. She must be a horrible mother! She doesn’t have a heart! This woman should never have kids! She obviously can’t handle being a mother! And on and on and on.  It was terrible. If these anonymous commenters hiding behind their screens felt these things about her, then they must surely feel the same about me. Ugh.

When I started this blog I told myself I had two rules. 1. I only write when I feel inspired, and never force it.  2. I tell my honest truth.  If anyone takes the time to read it, they deserve that.

Well, despite my fears, here is my truth.  A truth that I think more than just this woman and I experience.

Before I dive in, I’m feeling the need to put out a little disclaimer: I am not seeking advice for how to better deal with my dogs. And I am not seeking your input on how to better manage my home.  I am not seeking any sympathy or anything resembling a pity party; I am fully aware that my situation is a culmination of conscious decisions my husband and I made. I just want to put myself out there in hopes that another mom may breathe that sigh of relief knowing she isn’t the only one.  That’s all 🙂

My husband got our first fur baby, Stokley, as a graduation gift from college from his parents. A beautiful, lovely golden retriever that was part of our dear friend’s new litter of pups.  He was friendly, lively, and had a coat of fur to die for.  He moved around with us as it took us a few years to get settled into adulthood, and once we were married we got the itch to give him a sibling. Enter Skyler.  Another golden retriever with a gorgeous light coat, adorable little size, and playful as can be.  They immediately grew to love each other, and they were our babies.  Weekends spent walking them through scenic trails.  Hours playing out in the backyard. The subject of most of our pictures. You know the drill.

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We talked about how we would prepare them for kids, which would be here in nine short months.  The blanket that smells like the baby.  Let them be curious and get close.  Continue to shower them with attention and affection.  You know that drill, too.

And we did.  We did all the right things, and our fur babies adjusted well.  They are both sweet to our kids and for that I am so thankful. Going from our number ones to our number threes couldn’t have been easy for them, but it is the reality. They are the last ones that get dinner at night and they are the last ones to be put to bed at night. Its just how it is now.

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I stay home with our two year old and three month old.  One of those conscious decisions Matt and I made.  If you’re a mom of multiples or you’ve been in the same vicinity as a pair of littles, you know how busy it can be.  You know that some days it takes every last ounce of energy to make it to bed time.  And you know there are times you nearly shutdown in nervous laughter because shit. is. bananas.  There are too many times when the kids have used up every last ounce of your patience, and the dogs become your tipping point.  Between the kids and your spouse, sometimes it feels like all your attention and time is used up and your reserves are empty.

It’s…challenging.

Its challenging when I’ve worked really hard all morning to get their schedules just right so I might get a few minutes of nap time alone… for Stokley to hear someone clink a spoon on the Food Network and start barking like crazy and wake them up.

It’s challenging when I tell Stokley to sit and stay at the back door so I can get a rag to clean his feet, and he doesn’t listen. Only to spread poop throughout the entire main floor that my toddler daughter has now taken an interest in.

It’s challenging  when I’m in the middle of a dirty diaper change, and Skyler starts puking on the carpet because she insists on eating anything and everything she finds.

It’s challenging when after multiple vacuum jobs each day, their hair still shows up in diapers, food, little fists, and on every blanket we own. I can’t keep up.

It’s challenging when I’m in Harrison’s room and finally lay him down for a nap, when Skyler makes her way up to the bedroom and shakes her collar with vigor. Waking the tiny, exhausted human I just got to sleep.

Its challenging when I try to take the dogs for a walk with the stroller, but can’t because Stokley has a new sense of protectiveness and will quite literally take off to attack any other dog that crosses our path.

It’s challenging when after a sleepless night I finally get the baby back to sleep, and have one more glorious hour to lay in bed. Until both dogs won’t stop crying to be fed downstairs.

It’s challenging when all I want to do is be spontaneous and do fun things with the kids in the backyard. But I can’t until any and all dog poop gets picked up.

It’s challenging when I have a sleeping baby strapped to my chest and a toddler eating lunch, when I look out to see Stokley has wrapped himself around a tree.  Because going outside in 10 degree weather is exactly what I am wanting to do at the moment.

It’s challenging when I know all they need is my affection that they so deserve, and I struggle to muster it up.

And if I’m being really, truthfully, honest… some days its challenging to find my love for them.  I’d be lying if I said there’s never been days where I’ve wished a family member could take them.  And I’d be lying if I said the “if only the dogs weren’t here!” thoughts never crossed my mind.

I have no advice to give, and no “ah ha” moment to leave you with at the end of this one.  I’ve got nothing, because I myself am still trying to sort it out. I’m still wrestling with guilt over how I feel about my dogs, and I’m still trying to make this one big happy home for everyone – including the pups.

What I do know, however, is that while my relationship with them is strained, my daughter’s relationship with them is not.  She laughs with them, lays on them, helps feed them, and knows their rules to reinforce.  She loves them. And they (kind of) love her.  As the kids grow older they will take on more responsibilities with them, and these dogs are going to be the ones they remember as their first pups.  They will forever be a part of my children’s childhood memories.  And when my reserves are depleted, that is reason enough to keep trying.

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To the author of the article that gave me the push to write my own – you are not an awful person or mother.  I know this because I understand and I’m not an awful person or mother.  It’s our experience.  Our truth. And there’s no shame in that.

Because having little kids and dogs, its…challenging.

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