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?! 🙂 — 

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Unpacking “Help” in Toddlerese

There are basically three definitions of the word “help” in the Toddlerese Dictionary.  You know them.

Help /help/

exclamation 

1. used as an appeal for urgent assistance.

“Help!” (as their head is firmly stuck in between deck rails).  “Help!” (as they are stuck planking between the couch and ottoman and are scared to fall in between).  You know this one as a toddler actually needing help, but for something usually pretty ridiculous and picture worthy.

verb 

2. request to offer your services or resources to make the toddler’s life easier – not as urgent.

“Mom. Please help.” (as she points to the kleenex box on shelf she can’t reach, wanting to take out every kleenex one at a time).  “Please help. Water.” (as he points to his water bottle on the floor of the car that you JUST picked up for him no less than 12 times already).

verb

3. an offering of assistance from your toddler to you – because through your own invitation or simple appeal of the activity, the toddler thinks their assistance will indeed be helpful.

 

THIS LAST ONE.  Numero tres.  The act of the toddler “helping” you.  This is the one.

No one talks about this act of toddler assistance, when some days I feel like it will surely be the thing that kills me one painstaking minute at a time. More so than the whining.  More so than the tantrums when leaving the playground.  And more so than alligator wrestling during each and every diaper change.  (I said some days).

If you’ve been around toddlers, you know all too well the “help” I’m talking about.  It can look like this:

Intention: help vacuuming.

Reality: toddler tries to hold and push your vacuum all on their own with NO help from you, resulting in a several minute struggle because its too heavy, and ending in tears because they couldn’t do it.  Hence, nothing got vacuumed, because your toddler now needs help coming down from their vacuum induced rage.  And if you’re thinking, “just remind her of her own play vacuum and you can do it together”, you are more than welcome to come over and tell her that.  I’ll be in the corner giggling.

Intention: help baking and cooking.

Reality: after bringing over a chair for toddler to stand on or bringing ingredients down to their level, you think you’ve got a firm grip on their hand that holds the mixing spoon.  Toddler refuses help, because after all, they’re the pro here? You calmly refuse to give them full reign, which incites immediate frustration from toddler.  Before you can say “here it comes”, that firm grip is not so firm, and there is food – everywhere. You swear under your breath as you clean up the unknown proportions of misplaced ingredients that that was the last time you let them help for awhile.  Until tomorrow. Blue berry muffins still turn out when half of the mix in your dogs mouth, right?

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Intention: help you go to the bathroom.

Reality:  Who knew that after being self-sufficient in the bathroom for 98% of your life you now needed help? You can’t say no – you want them interested in potty training and the process of going on the potty.  So, they help get you toilet paper to wipe with.  Which is fine, until you’re done wiping – but they aren’t done getting it for you.  Half a roll is on the ground, you’re stuck on the pot, and in frustration they quickly reach to flush before you tell them you’re ready.  All you’re left with is a few cold droplets of water on your butt and the shame in knowing your toddler just beat you in the bathroom.

Intention: help feeding the dogs.

Reality: This one is too easy to envision.  Toddler wants to dump food into bowls.  Gets distracted along the way (shocking).  Food ends up all over floor.  Some gets eaten by dogs.  Some gets eaten by toddler.  You don’t know how much food your dog actually got.  You find bits of dog food in kitchen over the next week.

Intention: helping unload the dishwasher.

Reality: They are playing nicely in the playroom, so you quietly open the dishwasher thinking you can quickly unload it sans “help”.  Your tot is the modern day version of Pavolv’s dog, however, and the simple sound of the dishwasher clicking open sends them running into the kitchen salivating with a thirst to help. You frantically get all the knives and deadly weapons up on the counter out of reach, and then proceed to let them help you.  Three dirty spoons, a broken plate, and 38 minutes later, the dishwasher is unloaded. How could you have possibly done it without them?

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Intention: help bringing in the groceries.

Reality: Most bags are too heavy to hand over.  You learned that when they tipped over sideways while trying to walk the bag through the garage and smashed into the wagon.  So now its a team effort between you and hubby. One sifts through bags looking for durable, non-breakable, non essential, light weight items to hand out. The other waits at the door to retrieve the items one at a time to avoid the toddler trying to walk up (and consequently falling back down) the stairs into the house.  If it was a large grocery shop, you know to run in the perishable fridge/freezer items first because they could easily go bad by the time your helper is done helping.

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To the parents of tiny helpers, I salute you.  Keep on keepin’ on.  Every day tasks take infinitely longer, the house can quickly turn dramatically filthier, and our patience meter can take significant hits when we are “assisted”, but we are determined to raise confident, independent, generous, and strong-willed young people. So we keep at it.   After all, are we really that important to take the extra time to teach them? We allow them to help us throughout our day because we know in the long run, the rewards will far outweigh the patience we put in.  And one day… one day… their help will in fact be our adult definition of help.  Right? (No seriously, some reassure me I’m right).

"Helping" me sweep out the garage.  Aka, stealing the good broom and sweeping our street.
“Helping” me sweep out the garage. Aka, stealing the good broom and sweeping our street.

 

 

 

The Things I’ve Been Meaning to Tell Him

Tayler and I were building up towers of stacking cups in the playroom when I heard him moving around upstairs.  I thought that he was surely just using the restroom and getting back in bed.  It was too early.  My husband, Matt, was on a night shift rotation at the time, and he didn’t crawl into bed till nearly 3:30 a.m.  I was downstairs silently giving him a tongue lashing, “You better not come down here yet.  It’s only 8:30! You need sleep, too! REST!”.  A few minutes later, there he was.  Groggy and half asleep, but with a small crooked smile on his face at the sight of our daughter squealing and running around at the sight of him.  She was why he came down.

“Baaaabe! Why are you up already?! You’re exhausted!”.

“I have to head in to work a little early today, and I didn’t want to miss out on that time with her.  I just want to be with my girls”.

Oh.  How could I possibly fight that?

For the rest of the day that image of a hard working, sleep deprived, “I just want to be around my daughter” father stayed with me.  It was one of those days the gratitude in my heart for this man, my husband, spilled over the brim.

Since that day I’ve thought a lot about how today’s dads don’t have nearly the amount of support us moms do.  Matt doesn’t have a rock solid community of other dads to go to for advice, a quick vent session, or a simple “I hear you – I’ve been there, too”.  No one asks the dad how its going balancing work and family life.  They don’t have the online resources, blogs to relate to, or check-in’s from friends and family simply asking how life as a dad is going for them.  They don’t get the level of encouragement us moms often do.  The kind words that reaffirm we’re doing a great job at this monumental task of parenting little humans. I spend much time and energy every day trying to build up other moms and reassure them they have someone in their corner, but I overlook all too often the man who I share my home with and raise my family with.

Yet here he was… still kicking ass in his role as father.

I recently read an article written by a dad that talked about his frustration with being complimented at how amazing of a father he was when he was doing the simplest of things with his children.  Taking them to the grocery store by himself, changing diapers without being told, or getting up in the middle of the night for feedings.  To him, those were his normal duties as dad… nothing above and beyond.  Nothing spectacular or particularly noteworthy. To be complimented at the highest level for doing those things seemed insulting, like it put down what should be expected of dads today.  While I think Matt could’ve easily been the author of that article and I fully understand and appreciate the author’s argument, I still feel our cut-above-the-rest dads deserve more praise for doing one hell of a job.  While we consciously make an effort in our marriage to continually voice and show our appreciation for things we do for our family, there’s a lot I’ve been meaning to tell Matt.

I’ve written about my mom, my mother-in-law, my daughter, my unborn son, and my Momtourage.  But I’ve yet to write about my sidekick, my baby daddy, my best bud, and my partner I’ve created this beautiful little life with.  Today is his 30th birthday, and I can think of no better time to tell him how wonderful he is in this role as dad, and how I will always continue to be his biggest cheerleader.

I remember how frustrated you used to get at times when I was exclusively breastfeeding. You understood and appreciated this gift we wanted to give our daughter, but you so desperately wanted to have a more active role.  You wanted to give her everything she could possibly need. Your desire to be so involved from the very beginning illustrated just the kind of father you would become. You have been a natural from the start. 

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I adore the fact that you are trying to create special times and memories for just you and Tayler to share.  You want her to look back one day, and have those special places, activities, and items that scream, “THIS is my dad”.  The Giving Tree will surely hold a special place in her heart. 

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I admire your effortless ability to know when and how to teach her new things.  Things that I myself, even after spending all day every day with her, don’t realize she’s ready for.  She is a nose blowing, tooth brushing, hair washing, stair descending, fork wielding maniac… because of you.  

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I respect how diligent you’ve become in problem solving when new stages and phases pop up.  You don’t always look to me for answers, you read and dig and find them on your own.  You use trial and error, come back to the drawing board, and try again when needed.  Many times you know when we need to change our approach and stay flexible, while I’m still comfortable and set in our current ways.  

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I revere your unwavering desire to always want to be around our daughter.  When you’re dog tired, you’re still present.  When she’s at grandma’s for a night, your heart aches.  And when given the choice to sleep upstairs quietly or nap on the couch with guaranteed interruptions… you choose the couch just so you can be near her.  Space and time away from her at times is healthy for everyone involved, but there is no calming that pang in your heart to be close to her.  

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I hold dear how much pride you take in being the one to provide for our daughter in all forms of the word. You work hard every single day to ensure she has everything she could possibly need.  After months of me nursing her to sleep, she had a hard transition allowing anyone else to rock her to sleep.  I will never forget the first night you were able to successfully put her down for the night without a fuss.  The emotion on your face when you left her room said more than any words ever could. 

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I find an all consuming joy in watching you play uninhibitedly with her.  You are on her level, as silly as can be, and absolutely shameless when it comes to making her laugh.  Her happiness and smile are the motors that keep your heart running.  

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I feel so grateful for your attitude on the kind of role a dad should have in the home.  Anything I do, you want to do, too.  The 1950’s are long gone, and so are those divisions of labor.  You have a hand in everything, which makes my life as wife and mom that much more enjoyable.  You are one diaper changing, bath giving, night time rocking, dinner slaying, carpet cleaning, and clothes washing son of a B.  You are the epitome of a MAN. 

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I am so appreciative for how conscious you are of making sure we stay a team.  You go out of your way to make sure we’re on the same page, working towards the same goals, and following through on our plans to get there.  Our children will only benefit from how hard you work at ensuring we are always presenting a united front.  Together.

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I feel so thankful for how you’ve always gone out of your way to build me up as a new mom.  You brush off my shoulders when I make mistakes and offer both hands to pick me back up.  You praise me and vocalize how wonderful of a job you think I’m doing.  You’ve got a keen sense for knowing when I really need to hear it.  You support, support, support, and step up when you know I need a break.  You take such incredible care of me, which allows me to take the utmost care for our daughter.  Tayler thanks you for that.  

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I’ve had the pleasure of watching you grow from boy, to man, to husband, to dad over our 12+ years together.  And soon, our little family of three will become a family of four.  I can think of no better husband to share this journey with, and no better father to grow our family with. While I may not say it quite as much as I should, please know that I think the world and the moon and stars of you.  You’re not perfect, I’m not perfect, and despite those times she does really sweet shit, neither is our daughter.  Together, however, we make one incredible little team, with you at the center of it.  

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Happy birthday, love.

Your mother would be so proud of you.

Cheers to 30 more years.

We love you!

(And to answer the question a lot of you women are thinking: yes, he has a brother. But no, he’s not available. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turkey Dogs for Life

I need to send out a hug.  A giant, heartfelt, bear hug to all of you parents that have ever dealt with a toddler that’s a picky eater.  Why? Because OH MY GOD.

Dealing with a picky eater wasn’t even in my peripheral vision.  Not even on my radar. I guess that was one potential challenge of parenthood I overlooked.  Maybe I just assumed because I’m such a good eater that my kids would be too.  After all, I read that moms who eat a variety of foods while pregnant pass those flavors to their baby, therefore creating a pleasant, adventurous eater.  So that must be true, right? Gahhh.

I even remember before I had kids and would see other parents of picky eaters.  The naive, young, head in her butt Erica would tell herself, “Come on! Its not that hard! Its either what you make or they don’t eat! Simple.  Problem solved”.  I love giving that Erica the, “Haha, ok, because you know it all” eye roll.

This one isn’t about advice, or a “what works well for us”. It’s simply a hug.  Because dealing with a picky eater can be so overwhelmingly frustrating and trying.  Even knowing that its a phase, and knowing I’ve never seen an adult only eat turkey dogs and cheese… when all you want is to be able to nourish your child with plenty of vitamins and wholesome goodness for the energy and growth they so deserve… its all too easy to feel defeated.

This one’s for you.

This is for the parents who have brought out the Brezza or food processor time after time after time, determined to make your own baby food, only to have a messy kitchen and a stocked freezer that will never get touched to show for it.  

This is for the parents who have tried steaming, broiling, baking, boiling, and grilling.  There’s bound to be a preparation method they’ll like, right? 

This one is for the parents who have gone out of their way to eat good foods with enthusiasm and passion in front of your children repeatedly to show that if they would just try it ONE MORE TIME, they’ll like it! We promise! 

This one is for the parents who after a long day, consciously prepare dinner with a lean protein, vegetable, and whole grain that you know are sure hits with your tot.  You just can’t deal with defeat.  Not today.  Until you sit down to eat, and this fab trio you prepared is met with an adamant, “NO! NO! NO!”.  

This one is for the parents who purposely take their kids to Sam’s Club for free samples. So they can try new foods without you having to buy or make them.  They love and eat up the cherries for the first time, so you happily buy a carton.  You get home feeling victorious, clean and cut some up, and then she acts like you’re trying to feed her feces.  

This one is for the parents who have resorted to acting like flipping magicians in the kitchen, hiding and covering up veggies in ways no child can detect.  Until they do, and that whole portion of their meal is now deemed inedible.  

This one is for the parents who have tried to wait it out. Leaving little ones in their booster or high chair for awhile.  Surely, she’ll cave.  She HAS to be hungry.  I WILL win this one.  Until you don’t.  

This one is for the parents who have made so many smoothies they should moonlight at their local Jamba Juice.  If they aren’t going to eat their fruits and veggies, you’ll be damned if they don’t drink them.  

This one is for the parents who know the anxiety that comes from knowing they only have one shot at introducing a new food at meal time.  And the WHEN during meal time is critical.  Too early – the entire meal could be shot.  Too late – the entire meal could be shot.  It’s an art form, people.  

This one is for the parents who have felt the repeated devastation of wasting food.  Oh, the wasting of food.  You consider eating it yourself, until you realize its not healthy for your mental well-being or waistline.  Breaks my heart one tiny piece at a time.  

This one is for the parents who have sat there at night, rocking their little one to sleep, replaying the day through their head and cataloging every thing their child ate.  Most days, it never feels like enough.  

This one is for the parents who rarely get to eat warm food.  You want to share meals together, and you want to set an example every day of what eating well looks like, but when you’re up and down repeatedly – the chicken is never warm by the time you get back to it.  

You know how important nourishment is for healthy minds and healthy bodies.  Your child deserves the best, and you so want to be able to give it to them if they just let you.  You envision the day when a family meal time will go smoothly, without disappointment, interruption, or requiring a short order cook.  You’ve read the books and articles.  You get the unsolicited advice.   And you know, like all phases, this too shall pass.   But in the moment, when you’ve pulled out all the stops, sometimes throwing up the white flag feels like your only course of action.

Some of my wonderful dietitian moms have recommended this Ellyn Satter site as a guide for setting healthy eating boundaries and sharing the responsibility of eating well between you and your children.  Hopefully some of you find it beneficial – I know I have.  A lot of great resources.

Until then, I feel for you.  We’ll get through this, one GD chicken nugget at a time.

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The Compliments I Wish More New Moms Received

It used to mildly annoy me. Then for awhile it frustrated me. And now, after having it shoved down our throats repeatedly, it kind of pisses me off.

Olivia Wilde looks incredible just three months after baby! Claire Danes was on the red carpet in a size zero just one month postpartum! I’m pretty sure Kristin Cavallari wore her skinny jeans on the way home from the hospital. And I’m almost certain Gisele Bundchen gave birth during a pilates class and finished her exercises once she delivered. These headlines are everywhere, and every day it’s a new mom that is applauded for an even better version of her body than she had before pregnancy, and she achieved it in no time.

WE GET IT. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WE GET IT.

I’m not on a media crusade here, I’ll leave that to the much more competent, much more influential people out there with the platforms to make a difference. And after really evaluating why it infuriates me like it does, it’s not even that I’m on a jealously rooted rant. (OK, a tiny part of me is jealous). Honestly, it just really makes me sad. It’s sad to feel like the only compliment our new moms receive these days has to do with how quickly they can make themselves look like they never carried and birthed a baby in the first place.

Now please understand I’m not knocking women who, whether through unwavering dedication and hard work or the jackpot of genetics, bounce back quickly. Being healthy and taking care of ourselves should be a priority, and it should definitely be acknowledged.

My problem is, there’s so much more our focus should be on when speaking about women who just gave birth. There is never a shortage of the, “you look great!”s, and “wow, it melted right off you!”s. So much so, they often feel artificial and insincere – its just something people say to new moms whether they genuinely mean it or not. While I know I got them, I don’t remember a single one. The compliments I DO remember, however, had absolutely nothing to do with my physical appearance.

I specifically remember the text I got from a dear friend (who, at the time, I didn’t even know really followed my motherhood journey). Out of the blue, she let me know how fantastic of a mother I was and how she hoped to be “a quarter of the mom that I already am”. I specifically remember the conversation I had with my husband, where he told me one of the biggest reasons he was excited to see our family grow again was because of me, because I was “such an amazing mother”. I specifically remember the conversation I had with my grandmother about how she was so impressed with all the experiences I was trying to give Tayler and all that I was exposing her to. I remember the compliments about breastfeeding, about patience, and about how hard I was working around the clock to give Tayler everything she needed. Those words all stuck with me and helped build me up because they acknowledged the kinds of qualities I think really matter to new moms. The qualities our focus should be on when speaking to new moms. Those were the compliments that reminded me my energy was being spent in the right places.

I imagine Us Weekly would have to shut down if they changed their focus. I’m not sure the headline “Olivia Wilde is an avid baby wearer!” would sell any copies. But for those of us who are around your every day new mom, the ones who don’t have night nannies, who make their own meals on a budget, and who try and squeeze in a jog or some squats when they find a free 20 minutes and their energy isn’t completely zapped – acknowledge something more than just her physical appearance. Let her know you’re in awe of how natural she is in her new role. Tell her you respect how hard she works at work and then comes home and works with that same tenacity. Let her know that despite the few hours of broken sleep she got, you admire how she’s able to keep her patience and provide lovingly for her infant all day long. Reach out to tell her you revere the fact that she has the confidence to go against the grain, knowing what she is doing is best for her and her baby.

A new mom has so much more going on in her life than only worrying about how far she is from her pre-baby pant size. Not only that, but many women love their new motherly shape and don’t want to look like they did before children. We need to acknowledge that fact and change the conversation so our new moms can focus on the things that matter and be reassured their priorities are in the right order. Compliment her heart, soul, and fierce love for her babies. Those are the qualities that are raising exceptional little people – not the inches around her waist.

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I Know You’re There, Sweet Boy

Hi Baby Boy,

Twenty three weeks.  That’s how long you and I have been together, getting to know each other a little more each and every day.  By now you’ve heard me and your father chattering away, and all those prods and thumps you feel are thanks to your big sister, Tayler.  She’s got one speed, and that speed is GO.  You’ll see. 🙂

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There she is – laying all over you. 🙂

Ever since I was old enough to think about becoming a mom I’ve always envisioned myself as a mom of boys.  I just always felt like it suited my personality.  I love to play rough, get dirty, and play sports. I love to play in creeks, climb trees, and overall, I think I’m a pretty low maintenance person.  Until our ultrasound, I was convinced Tayler was a boy.  Your dad knew she was a girl all along (which drives me nuts – I hate when he’s right!), but boy was I shocked! While I have whole heartedly loved being a mom to a beautiful little girl for the past year and a half, (and I actually thought you were a girl for awhile, sorry!), I am so excited for our upcoming adventures. You and I – we’re going to have fun together.

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This is my ugly cry when I found out you were a boy! I was so happy!

The real reason I’m writing you right now, however, is to make a mommy confession of guilt.  While I know you’re probably too busy growing big and strong to notice, I can’t help but feel like I’ve been neglecting you.  When I was pregnant with your sister I remember so much planning, attention to detail, reading, and preparing for her by this point in the pregnancy.  Outside of work and spending time with loved ones, I was able to spend all my energy on getting things perfect for her arrival.  Every piece in her nursery was carefully planned. I was able to rest and relax when her and I needed it.  I had the time to watch every single episode of A Baby Story, and every single item on her registry was added with much consideration and thought.  Your dad and I sat there and rubbed and talked to my belly nearly every night.  Ah, life before children.  🙂

You and I have been together twenty three weeks, and all I’ve really been able to do is go through Tayler’s old clothes to pull out all the neutral pieces (we didn’t tell anyone she was a girl for awhile :)), clean out your closet that your father and I used for our overflow, and I got your new breast pump so we can really make this breastfeeding thing work for awhile.  I’ve bought you a few new outfits – its been fun changing gears and learning how to shop for cute boy clothes! Your father and I have just recently started to nail down some name possibilities, too – I hope you like what you’ve been hearing.  But truthfully, that’s about it.  I haven’t been able to relax as much as needed (again, your sister has one speed), and she takes much of my time and energy. I hope you’re doing OK keeping up.  (Also, I hear you loud and clear – NO MORE RUNNING. Got it.).

The first time we got to see you!
The first time we got to see you!

I’m not sure if maybe there’s just a lot less to do because we’ve already been through this all before or if I’ve just genuinely had a hard time making the time for you, but my sweet boy, I want you to know something.

I want you to know that I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment we’ve shared together so far.  I want you to know that I think about you at least one thousand times a day.  I picture us welcoming you into our family and become easily emotional at the joy I know you’ll bring.  I want you to know I already feel so connected to you, and love you with every fiber of my heart. Feeling you moving in my belly is easily one of the best parts of day, and I try and envision just how you’re plyaing around in there.  I can’t wait for your dad and sister to be able to feel. I want you to know that you will have a space of your own that was deliberately created with love just for you. I want you to know that every belly rub you feel is intentional with the hopes of radiating a loving, “I know you’re there, sweet boy”.  And I want you to know I am absolutely giddy with excitement (and nerves!) for your arrival and the chance to finally be able to look into your eyes.

Despite how many boxes I’ve checked off your to-do list, I want you to know I love you very, very much, and that is essentially all the preparing I really need to do.

Let’s rock these next seventeen weeks together. We can’t wait to meet you.

Your biggest fan,

Mom

Family picture!
Family picture!

 

 

Sometimes, I Just Want My Body Back

I’ve been sitting on this one for weeks and weeks.  At first I didn’t really know how to make sense of this recurring feeling.  Once I did, I wasn’t really sure how to write about it without sounding ungrateful or all, “woe is me” about it. I’m still not sure I know how, so I’m just going to cross my fingers and hope you know me well enough by now to know that while it is a discouraging feeling to have at times, I am very in tune with the fact that the root and circumstance of the problem (I really don’t think I can even call it that?) is actually quite a blessing.

Sometimes, I just want my body back.  No, not my high school or college body (although that would be nice too). I just want my body back to me. Just to me.  Not to share with anyone else, for just a little bit of time. Just to me.

It’s been the most bizarre feeling to navigate because it completely contradicts some of my very favorite things in life.

I absolutely yearn for and love physical affection and cuddle time with my daughter.  The way her little arms wrap around my neck.  The nine different positions she lays on me in and is blissfully content. The way her tiny fingers find twirling my hair to be the most comforting thing she knows.  I can’t get enough of her chest against mine.

I absolutely love being pregnant.  There is nothing like the privilege of carrying and growing a precious life inside you that was made from nothing but unconditional love.  I love the honor it is to be responsible for making the right choices for this beautiful little human that will make our family complete.  Despite the aches, pains, and less than flattering changes your body can go through, I feel nothing but joy knowing I am capable of creating such a miraculous thing to add to our world.

I absolutely love breastfeeding.  It’s not for all women, but I loved being able to feed and nourish my daughter. Knowing that for that bit of time, my body was able to give her everything she needed to grow big and strong.  I savored that bonding time and the way it strengthened our relationship.  Its one of the many things I look forward to being able to do again with our son.

I absolutely love physical affection and intimacy with my husband.  The way I am the perfect size little spoon curled up in his masculine arms.  The way he plays with my hair and scratches my back knowing it is my biggest soother.  I love the quick little touches he gives throughout the day that so clearly say, “Hang in there. I love you, and I’m here”. And I’ll spare you the steamy details, but oh, do I love the intimacy.

I long for and thrive off physical contact with those I love dearly, yet its those very things that can often overwhelm me to a point of emotional distress.  I vividly remember one morning in the kitchen sobbing, wondering what was wrong with me. For awhile I thought I was being a little overly dramatic, like I was subconsciously trying to make something out of nothing.  But when I stopped to really think about all that is involved in a day in terms of physical demands, I began to realize that being a mom and wife takes much, much more than just the intellectual and emotional.

Most days it feels like everyone else in my family (including baby boy in belly) is needing something from my body, and at the end of the day, there’s nothing left for me.

Sometimes, I just want my body back.  

Sometimes I just want a moment where Tayler isn’t climbing all over my stomach, squishing my already rearranged organs and roughhousing with her baby brother.  Honestly, it kind of hurts.

Sometimes I just want to go through a day without her continuously playing with my hair.  Not that its anything fancy, but when I’m able to steal five minutes to put it up in a kinda cute way, I’d like it to stay that way for more than one hour.

Sometimes I just want to drink coffee when I need a pick me up without having to worry about how much caffeine I’m consuming.

Sometimes I just want to drink an extra dirty martini when I need a pick me up without having to worry about how much alcohol I’m consuming.

Sometimes I just want to be able to cook a decent meal that takes more than ten minutes without having a little one pulling on me to hold her the whole time.

Sometimes I just want to be able to go to bed without the guilt of thinking, “Shit.  How has it already been a few days since we’ve had sex?  I should really make the time for it right now.  But I am so. dog. tired”.

Sometimes I just want to be able to wake up in the morning without the guilt of thinking, “I have a half an hour before Tayler wakes up. It’d be a perfect time to catch up on some intimacy time, but god the thought of enjoying my decaf and catching up on the DVR in peace sounds so heavenly”.

Sometimes I just want to be able to go for a run without worrying about my heart rate or how quickly I’ll need to stop for a restroom break.

Sometimes I just want my weight to stay in one place, my boobs to stay the same size and shape (preferably pregnant boob size), and be able to wear the same wardrobe for awhile.

And I remember so clearly being in the middle of breastfeeding, wondering if I’d ever get my body back for more than two hours at a time without having to lift my shirt up.

My dad always used to say that the way you can tell the difference between an introvert and an extrovert is in the way they recharge their batteries, not by the way they interact with others.  Maybe this is the introvert in me desperately crying out for more time to recharge my batteries – alone.  Or maybe its a common feeling shared by many moms and wives.  I’m not sure whether its the former or latter, or maybe its a mix of both, but what I am sure of is that I’m more in tune with recognizing that slowly rising need to be alone to reboot.  It picks up momentum quickly, and I’m more aware of my own physical requirements that must be met sometimes before I can continue to meet the physical needs of others.

And sometimes, that means taking my body back.

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