Categories
Children Parenting Summer

Why I try (and still fail) to keep a summer sleep schedule.

It’s officially summer!

We just had our first camping trip as a family down at Harrison Lake State Park a few weeks back, and it didn’t turn out too bad. The planning part wasn’t awful. Gathering all of our supplies that we needed the week before the trip was a bit hectic. Honestly, the worst part of the whole planning process was the packing that had to be done near the end. I had lists, upon lists, upon lists to make sure we did not forget anything, had things prepacked in advance before the day of departure, and we still managed to forget essential items.

Also, we thought we could survive without coffee for the whole week. We were sorely mistaken. I’m definitely investing in a percolator and a manual coffee grinder for our next excursion. Or, I could just pack some instant coffee or get some preground stuff and just make some good ol’ fashioned “Cowboy Coffee“. However I decide to do it, I’m definitely not leaving home without the caffeine bean again. Yes, I know have a problem, thank you.

After going on this trip, I became curious about sleep schedules for kids during the summer, since it seemed like everyone I knew had a different way of approaching the subject. Some held very strict standards, and every event or item of the day was planned around bedtime. Others were more lenient and allowed their kids to stay up late during the summer, but would then go back to bedtimes once school started back up again. Of course, this all varied depending on factors like the child’s age/developmental stage, the kind of schedules the parents or caregivers had and based on what the kids liked and what they didn’t like. It was interesting to see the different strategies that everyone had managed to make work for them. And I saw that these methods got tweaked over time as the kids got older, or after a big change in schedule occurred.

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I think we’ve all seen this gem floating around the internet lately, and I can definitely relate…

According to the National Sleep Foundation, it is recommended that preschool-age kids get between 10-13 hours of sleep per night, while older kids get between 8-11 hours a night. This is because it can be harder to readjust sleep patterns when fall comes back around, and days start to become shorter and the sun starts to set earlier. If their circadian rhythm gets thrown off, it has been shown to affect future habits in sleep, diet, and activity levels. A Japanese study on a group of 400+ 18-month-olds also found that those who had earlier bedtimes with enough nap time during the day had shown positive effects on neurodevelopment.

From what I remember, my mom didn’t really enforce a sleep schedule on us. (But I also don’t remember anything significant before the age of 15.) My mom worked and was definitely a busy person during the year, but she never had to enforce a bedtime. I think she let us learn the hard way what would happen if we decided to stop sleeping. We knew how to listen to our bodies and figure out when we needed to sleep during the summer. So enforcing a summer bedtime on my own daughter, even while on a vacation, was completely new territory for me to wade into.

Anyway, we rented out the only cabin that existed in the whole park, and it was amazing. The reason why Harrison Lake held a special place in my heart? It was clean. Quiet. Peaceful. Felt like miles away from home, even though it was only an hour drive. And it was also a big part of my childhood. I would go with my mother and younger sister almost every year. It was our way to unplug and unwind for the summer, and I had many fond memories of the place. Now with a husband and child into the mix, I had hoped to be able to completely unplug once again and enjoy alone time with myself once again. My hopes were shattered that first night as PJ was still adjusting to her new environment, and Dan continued to use his phone to play games. I remained committed to my tech-free decision despite this. My phone was off and out of sight, and I don’t regret it.

harrison-lake-state-park-ohio-vacation-camping-sunset

At first, I was devastated. I began thinking about how I may not get the chance to have a quiet moment during my first vacation that I’ve had in years. PJ stayed up late for the first few nights in, but then I think she realized she was getting tired during the day. Luckily, there were few tantrums and was able to take a few power naps.

Once PJ adjusted, she became the happiest little girl on the planet. She ended up LOVING the trip, and I am excited to report that we will be planning another trip before the camping season ends. She loved being outdoors and exploring. And my heart melted as I got to watch her enjoy the simple activities I used to enjoy when I was younger.

Watching her eat a s’more for the first time was absolutely hilarious.

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While I did struggle with my conscious about putting her to bed while the sun was still out most of the time, that feeling of guilt quickly disappeared once I saw her snuggle with her favorite teddy bear and blanket and rolled over into a little baby burrito to prepare for her snooze. I wasn’t a complete control freak for the whole week, either. I let her stay up way past her bedtime for a couple of nights to roast some marshmallows with our guests and watch the stars with us.

When we got home, it was super easy to get her back onto her regular schedule for the summer. The first night home, she was eager to get back into her bed, with all of her familiar books and stuffed animal friends she missed while she was away. Now, we’ve never heard her say she actually wanted to go to sleep until we returned from that trip. We really must have worn her out! This whole thing was a success in my book.

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At the Homestead Ice Cream Shoppe in Archbold, OH.

So in my experience, a sleep schedule during the summer works for us. This is only my two cents about it. And there are definitely days where I suck at enforcing it. There are definitely pros and cons about sleep schedules, especially during the summer, but for now, this method seems to work for my family. I’m sure it will probably need adjustment down the road, but as long as everyone is happy for the most part, I’m okay with it.

My kid is napping happily in her room as I’m wrapping this up. I’m just so blessed to have such an awesome kid. Whether she sleeps well or not, she’s amazing. While she sleeps, I will continue to be grateful for these rare moments to myself in the kitchen, nibbling on my favorite dark chocolate and sipping my afternoon Sunday tea.

Life is good, guys. Enjoy the little things.

harrison-lake-state-park-family-picture-june-2019
Some things never change. (From left to right: Me, my mom, and my sister Tabitha.)

**Special thanks to my sister, Tabitha Marquis, for these awesome photos!**

Categories
Children Parenting

#Relatable: Parenting in 140 characters or less.

Ah, the joys of parenthood.

Here are some of my favorite relatable tweets as of late, if you happened to be curious about what parenting is really like.

1. When you want that chocolate bar, but your child wants everything you have.

2.  Good enough is phenomenal in my book these days.

3. We can only keep up this charade for so long…

4. It’s hard to understand sometimes.

5. Not into GOT myself, but I’m sure some may appreciate this one.

6. Life is hard.

7. One of PJ’s first words was “Google”. She still loves talking to Google every day.

8. Those were the good old days.

9. Hell, I get this while trying to take food/shoes/books/anything of current interest away from PJ for five seconds…

https://twitter.com/Melicious_Mama/status/1128003304644964359

10. I miss my old Saturdays.

 

Categories
Children Parenting

Why I didn’t go all out on a first birthday party. (And still won’t on the second one!)

Since 2017, April 3rd will always be a very special day for the Cervi family.

It was on this day that our daughter entered this crazy world. She didn’t even have a name when she was born. She was “Baby Cervi, Girl” until I finally declared her official name right before we left the hospital a few days later.

I never planned on having a huge party for such a tiny human. It just wouldn’t have been our style. She didn’t even know what it meant to be celebrating a birthday in the first place, much less knew how to hold a fork in her hand. So until my kid knows what a birthday is, these sorts of gatherings are mostly for me and Dan. Hear me out on this one:

When it comes to birthday parties for kids this young, it really should have the vibe of a glorified playdate.

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I’m sure these guys were either getting bored at the party or maybe they were in an intense conversation about gaming. Possibly both.

My (almost) two-year-old daughter isn’t too hard to please – she likes shoes, books, shiny objects, and to run around without a care. If I tried to plan out birthday party activities at her age, she would most likely rebel and want to do her own thing. She’s more interested in being independent at this point, and certainly does not like being told what to do. Her favorite word lately? This word is no.

You see my point?

Just go onto Google real quick and search for something like “first birthday ideas” or something similar. It won’t be too long until you run into some pretty elaborate birthday party themes. These are pretty cool looking for those Instagram photo-op kind of pictures, but with so many little details and extras that go into that kind of thing, I’m sure it also involves an extra level of planning, stress, and definitely spending more time and money into things that a toddler would not appreciate nearly as much. Such as intricate “smash cakes” that look like miniature versions of cakes that could be found at weddings or gala events. They’re gorgeous, but definitely over the top for a baby.

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These things are amazing.

What did we do, you ask? We just went to Cake in a Cup and bought one of their cupcake flavors of the week, and that was PJ’s cake. She absolutely loved it. No planning or mess on our end and she got to experience one of the best local cupcakes in the 419. Sure, we could have just made her a boxed cake, but Mom and Dad were also exhausted. We survived our first year of parenthood, so we thought we deserved something a little nice for ourselves, too!

Besides that, we just had some close friends and family over at our house for a couple of hours to hang out while they watched our daughter try to figure out how to open a couple of presents, and then proceed to play with the empty boxes of said presents more than the toys that were in them. That was it. We didn’t do party favors for the guests, we didn’t even send out invites – we just texted a few people to come over for a bit, and the rest was history.

So if you ever feel like an inferior parent because you didn’t get perfect pictures or things didn’t go the way as planned, fear not – your child will not care. And will not remember anything at all.

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PJ playing with her friend, Karly.

Our daughter is still young enough to get away with simple and inexpensive affairs. We’ll probably do something similar for her second birthday coming up in a few months from now. Once she starts to develop expensive tastes (like her mother), then heaven help us.  We will all be screwed.

So until then, I will be keeping things short and sweet when it comes to birthday parties. As long as I get to spend the day with my daughter, that is more than enough for me.

Categories
Children Life

Bye-bye, breast pumps: The end of my breastfeeding journey.

I did it.

A whole year is about to pass, and I managed to keep a little human alive somehow. This experience has been quite a rollercoaster ride.

PJ has been successfully weaned and is now able to take whole milk in place of breast milk. She’s eating what we eat now for the most part, and the mushy baby food is now a thing of the past. I can’t believe she’s about to be one year old.

As I was packing away all of the breast pumps, parts, and equipment, I was excited to reclaim an entire section of my kitchen cabinet where these things had made a home. That feeling was fleeting and was quickly replaced with sorrow. Sure, I was happy to have my entire body to myself again, but I was also realizing how quickly PJ has grown since she came home with us for the first time.

Looking back, the first few months were rough.

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I was completely unprepared for the emotional fallout I would experience after having PJ.

I was battling postpartum depression, struggling to get PJ to latch correctly, and to top it all off, I got laid off from my job at the 6-month mark. What should have been a happy and joyous time for me ended up being dark and full of anxiety and dread. Once we finally got breastfeeding down, I looked forward to those moments where I could nurse and just be away from the rest of the world with my baby. Sometimes, those moments felt isolating and frustrating. Thankfully, I kept reminding myself to cherish PJ and hold her close, even as I was fighting with my own demons in my head, because I knew these moments wouldn’t last forever.

Those moments kept me going through the hardships our family faced. When everything around me seemed to be falling apart, I felt like I could do nothing right. When PJ would look up at me with grateful eyes and fall asleep in my arms after getting her fill of milk, it made me feel like I was able to do something important after all, and that I was here for a reason. Thank God that she was able to keep reminding me of this during some of my darker days.

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More parts = less washing required.

Pumping and nursing consumed a lot of my time. There were many times where I would be on the road, and I would have to pump either while driving (not fun) or be hidden in the backseat trying to discreetly take care of business. I did travel and work quite a bit still after being laid off from my full-time job, but both of the pumps I had still saw plenty of action. I had to be dedicated to pumping while away to make breastfeeding work when I got home.

That being said, I highly recommend both the Medela Pump In Style Advanced and the Spectra S2 breast pumps. I was able to buy adapters and other interchangeable parts for both pumps on Amazon, and I definitely got my money’s worth out of both of these hard-working pumps.

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I’m sure my friends on Snapchat got tired of seeing these pics.

I eventually got used to how often I would have to pump to keep my supply stable, and I really didn’t realize just how much time this ate up until I began the weaning process. All of a sudden, I felt like I could get so much done! I would even have some extra time to myself occasionally to treat myself to a few Netflix shows or some Stardew Valley in the evenings. It was an amazing feeling to get that time back.

Still, our weaning had to be done gradually over a period of time to avoid things like breast engorgement and mastitis, but also to keep my sanity as I was going through a rough period of my life. During the last few months, I nursed with absolutely no distractions. No phone, no Facebook, nothing. Just me and PJ. I did my best to remember every detail – from her unique and creative ways to nurse sideways or even upside-down while playing or watching the TV, to how peaceful her face looked as she slowly fell asleep on my chest. I didn’t do any weird tricks to get PJ to come off the breast. She just adjusted to the bottle and fewer nursing sessions with little to no fuss.

The last nursing session we had was uneventful. It was peaceful, and I was blissfully unaware that PJ would no longer need to nurse soon. I’m glad that I didn’t make a big deal out of it and allowed things to take place naturally. It was the first thing that I had to “let go” of and the first loss of babyhood I had to grieve.

It was the first sense of loss that I have felt as a parent.

medela-pisa-pump-in-style-advanced-baby-breastfeeding
PJ making faces at me as I pack away the equipment that helped make this journey possible.

Don’t get me wrong, both of us were ready to end breastfeeding. PJ is becoming more curious by the day and is eager to move and explore the world around her. (Not to mention she has a mouth full of teeth now – another big motivator to wean at this time.) I need to get back to work, and despite the progress made with breastfeeding in the white-collar workplace, it would not be attractive to many employers in the US to hire an employee that is still nursing a child past one year.

Maybe it has something to with the hormonal shift I have to endure now that the milk factory is shutting down, but the emotional aftermath of weaning is pretty intense and can leave me feeling excited to be done one moment, and then sad and wistful the next. Fortunately, I’ve managed to keep myself busy so I wouldn’t ruminate on the things that I should have/would have/could have done during this entire journey.

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But despite all of the challenges we faced this first year, I am ready to take on the next year with renewed grit and energy.

As I packed up the pumps for storage, not to be used again until the next kid comes along, I got excited thinking about what the future has in store for us. I’m looking forward to the new experiences we will have together.

 

Categories
Children Education

To my daughter: My childhood will not be your childhood.

Let me tell you, Dan and I have had a rough couple of months. We decided that we needed a day to reconnect and come up for air from all of the stresses of life as of late. I suggested that we have a day date — free from any distractions like the phone or the Xbox. After dropping PJ off to spend the day with her grandma, we wound up in my old hometown of Maumee. Since we were strapped for cash, a day at Sidecut Park was the most affordable choice. It was a nice way to disconnect from the rest of the world and unwind for a bit.

We walked along the riverside for a bit while taking in the fresh air and the wildlife. There weren’t many people around since it wasn’t exactly picnic weather. A few fishermen here and there, but the place was mostly deserted. This allowed us to see more deer and other animals in the area than usual. It was maybe 40 degrees outside but after all of the snow and slush, I was happy to take it.

Something happened that day that made me think.

Before we headed towards town for some more wandering (and some pizza), I went towards the river to skip some rocks. It was something I did during camping trips as a child, and it kept me occupied for a fair amount of time. Even that day, we spent about 30 minutes just throwing rocks into the river.

Then Dan confesses to me that he has never ever skipped rocks before. Like, ever.

I thought, where the heck was he when I was growing up? I’ve never heard of anyone who hasn’t done this already (in this area, anyway.)

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The Maumee River at Sidecut Park.

It was interesting trying to teach a 26-year-old the art of finding the perfect rock to throw along with the techniques I used to get the rock to glide across the river. I felt like this was something that he should have learned a long time ago as if it were a rite of passage in childhood that he had somehow missed. After that, I immediately began to think of PJ. Would she be able to have the same kinds of joyful memories that I had growing up?

Obviously, my childhood will not be her own. She will have different experiences growing up because the world that she was born in is already completely different from the one I was born into. Compared to today, there was a noticeable lack of technology in the house when I was younger. I played Mario Kart on the Gamecube quite a bit, but I also had a healthy amount of time to spend outside with friends in the neighborhood. My sister and I didn’t get our first cell phones until after middle school. And I’m sure even back then, as the internet began to blossom, people were starting to become concerned with the excessive amounts of exposure towards technology that kids were getting.

But would it ever get to the point where we will forget the times where kids were able to have fun and grow up without it? Would there be more instances where I would be trying to teach a young adult an old-school time killer from my youth like Duck, Duck, Goose?

I mean, seriously! The news lately also seems to reflect this thought — the toy industry is struggling lately. Even the industry giant Toys R’ Us has filed bankruptcy and will be forced to shut down their remaining retail locations soon as a result of the changing times.

green-rectangular-toy-gray-boat-toy-gray-shovel-toy-and-green-car-toy-on-top-of-brown-leather-surface
I wonder what will happen to Barbies and Legos in the future? Many toys today are already integrated with some kind of tech to keep up.

Look, I’m totally guilty of allowing PJ to watch Sesame Street on the TV while I try to hurry and get some work done. If I’m busy, I need something quick and easily available to entertain her while I take care of things. But I would hate to have her think the main form of entertainment only exists behind a screen or a tablet. This may make me seem like a horrible parent on the surface, but I want PJ to be bored. Bored out of her mind at times. I will leave her alone to play with her lifeless, boring looking toys and blocks for a while.

Now hear me out on this one.

Boredom is uncomfortable to deal with (even for adults!). However, it can foster innovation and creativity if we are allowed to simply explore the world around us. I believe the hyper-awareness of everyone’s actions on social media has made my generation the most paranoid group of parents to come yet, and this has made us constantly worried about others thoughts and judgments to our own child-rearing methods.

Of course, my child should be protected from any hazards I see around us, but I want her to learn how to create and build things. Maybe when she is older, we can try building a birdhouse together, or figure out how to grow veggies and other plants in our backyard.

PJ is not going to be able to experience everything that I did as a child, but I am going to make sure she is able to learn and play in this world as much as she can before she gets sucked into adulthood. I want her to make mud-pies and play with worms. I want her to be able to play in a sandbox and learn how it reacts to water and pressure to create sand castles. I want to teach her how to skip rocks across the water like a pro. I can’t wait to take her outside to play in the park, spend a day at the zoo, and even take her on a camping trip of our own.

Whether she is on a tablet or just existing IRL, the thing I want her to do most is to actively explore and learn about the world around her. Because it is going to be very different from mine. And hopefully one day, she can help me navigate the changes, too.

Categories
Children Life

How to handle the question – When are you having more kids?

I know this is often asked with the purest of intentions. Or maybe someone was just trying to make conversation to get to know me better. This is not written towards those people who don’t know better – this is aimed at people whom I may love dearly that continue to ask these kinds of questions without thinking. Even after I have said my piece and ended the discussion with “Someday, but not right now.”

This is also for people who don’t know me personally and then will read a sentence or two of text online before jumping to conclusions and then judge me with the intensity of a thousand suns. Y’all gotta chill.

I’m sorry to report this to those who don’t have kids yet – the question about whether you’re having kids or not doesn’t seem to stop until maybe you get 3 or 4 of them. Then after that, you get comments about how you should stop having kids because 7 is too many. Hey, if that’s your thing, you do you! Why are these people so interested in your kids, anyway? They’re not the ones who will be paying for them.

Sydney Kleinman from Scary Mommy came up with some fantastic responses to this question, and I can still relate to how uncomfortable that pressure to procreate can be.

Sure, you can fumble around and find something polite to say back if this kind of question throws you off guard. I usually do this most of the time. But once in a while, I will resort to a death glare if the question is brought up one too many times.

Here are some of my favorite responses to use for three scenarios I usually face:

“You got grandkids money?”

Remember when you tried to convince your parents to go through a McDonald’s or something because you were hungry and got tired of the food at home? Well, the response above is perfect karma.

I love my mom. I also love my in-laws. Almost immediately after our wedding ceremony was finished, we got bombarded with this question, especially from the hopeful grandparent candidates.

This was probably most often done at this point in jest, but it really started to annoy me. I realize that there are some not-so-great expectations that guys have to deal with from society in general, but the one where I’m supposed to be in misery for several months and then experiencing permanent changes to my body? That’s a big deal to me. Not to mention the amount of time, money, and resources that will be needed to support such a great venture.

So if you catch me with a cup of ramen noodles, do NOT even go there.

“I have to focus on me for a bit.”

Sure, this one may make me seem selfish, but I think if you take anyone though the physical and emotional pains of labor, make them sleep deprived for several months, and give selflessly to a completely dependent being, I think even the most rational person would tap out from exhaustion.

People seem to forget sometimes that moms are people, too. We have needs to be met as well. I do a whole lot of “nothing” around the house that somehow manages to keep PJ safe and happy for another day. Just because the laundry or dishes didn’t get done doesn’t mean I wasn’t hard at work.

I was one of those women climbing the corporate America ladder before I fell pregnant. Work outside the home is important for me too (because money!) but when I returned to my job at the time, I was overloaded with breadwinner duty and baby duty. There was too much on my plate, and I crashed after trying to maintain everything for about 4 months straight. What I was doing was not sustainable for my health.

My career path has definitely changed up a bit since having PJ, but I believe the change has been for the better, even if it’s a bit delayed. However, I think a sibling for PJ should wait until I can take a few more steps in the direction where I want our family to go.

“Nah, I’m good.”

I realize this isn’t very easy to say in some cases, but it is OKAY to tell someone that kids are not your thing. You really don’t need to explain yourself to anyone. Like for me, I just don’t want another one right now. PJ is enough.

Simple.

…No really, I just don’t want more right now. Maybe later.

Maybe. Now leave me be!

Categories
Children Life

What it’s like being the married friend with a kid.

Sometimes, I worry if I’ve lost my ‘fun’ side after I decided to settle down. I’m fortunate to still have a few of my single friends that don’t have any kids to lug around, but it’s become harder to socialize these days, let alone get a decent shower in.

I still love to go out every now and then, if my bank account says it’s okay to do so. But I’m definitely not pounding down drinks like I was while I was in college. It’s not that I couldn’t recover from the hangover if I chose to do so, but I’m busy. And I’m kind of at an awkward spot in life – where people tend to be having their kids later in life, and I managed to win the baby lottery at the young age of… 25?

What?

But people were having kids around that time in their life, maybe back in the 1950’s or something? I can understand why people are holding off on having kids these days. Crippling student debt and the cost of living are just a few factors. (I promised myself I wouldn’t rant about this stuff… yet.)

But here’s the thing – even though my doctors had said I was at the “sweet spot” in terms of childbearing age, it sometimes still feels like I had jumped on the baby train a bit too early because I see a lot of people my age still partying, traveling, living it up in general – while I’m over in the corner with my mortgage, marriage, and sweet baby girl.

My life is pretty awesome, don’t get me wrong. It is just so different from what I had imagined.

twenty_one_pilots_columbus_ohio
See? I still do fun things sometimes. Like go to Columbus to see Twenty One Pilots.

So when my single ladies ask me to hang, there are more obstacles I have to face besides the outfit I’m going to wear.

Gone are the days of spontaneous nights out after a long week. I have to usually plan girls nights out at least a week ahead of time in order to be completely free to do what I want. This entails getting a sitter for PJ or having dad take one for the team. There is no such thing as free childcare, even when you have relatives who won’t charge you – there will be unique challenges to deal with there, too. (It’s the grandparents’ job to spoil the kids rotten and give them candy before bed, after all.)

Also, I can’t decide to just stay out until 2 am unless I consult with my husband first before I head out the door. We’re a team, so unless there is an emergency, we try to make it home when we say we will. Chances are, he is eagerly looking at the clock waiting for me to get back to pass the baby/household chores/work/etc. on to me as soon as I walk in the door, just as I do some days when he goes out with friends or is working. Respecting each other in a loving relationship is cool.

When my ladies come over to my house for lunch, I will mention PJ for a hot minute and then ask about their work lives and what’s going on with them – I’ll save the gross parenting stories for my newly acquired mom friends. Seriously, thank God for the mom friends in my life right now.

Secretly, I don’t want to scare my single friends off from parenting after complaining about the challenges and obstacles I face being a new mom. Who knows? Maybe in the future, they will join the parenting club and then we can bond once again between the war stories of childbirth and temper-tantrums in the grocery store aisles.

It’s honestly not that bad, but it’s not for everyone. Parenting has its moments and it’s quite an adjustment in life. I get it.

help_from_my_friends
You need support from your friends… in all areas and seasons of life.

But I’m so grateful for my single friends to call or text me, even if I haven’t spoken to them in months. I’m sure I’m not included in every outing or night out now because of how long it takes for me to get out the door, but I’m grateful to have girlfriends left who understand and will wait up for me. They’ll give me crap about it for sure, but they would never leave me behind.

If you wait up for me, I will happily share a bottle of wine with you and listen to all of your problems. I’ll even cook you some dinner. I’m just thankful for some social interaction with another adult and happy to hang up the mom hat for a bit and relax like a normal human being.

Do I miss the excitement of being single? Sometimes, sure. I don’t miss the drama or having to deal with jerks in the dating game. The single life got old to me real fast. At that point in my life, I was done wasting time on things that no longer added value to it. So I decided to start planting my roots.

What I’ve gained over the past few years are things that a lot of people would kill for. A home that is mine. A husband who loves me and is waiting for me at home every day. An amazing little girl who is happy, healthy, and learning every day.

Even as I’m helping plan a big night out for someone who will be following my footsteps soon, I know that even while living it up and partying with my friends, I will still be missing the family life that I’ve made and will look forward to coming back home to them. Every single time.

 

 

 

Categories
Children Life

Why my child isn’t my first priority.

I’m bracing myself for the comments about to come my way, especially from those who may get upset at the title without reading what I have to say first.

Also, check out this bit from Business Insider about why putting kids first can harm everyone in the long run. It seems I am (thankfully) not alone in feeling this way.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little resentful about motherhood expectations. Particularly about what a dear friend of mine came to me to confess before heading out on a last-minute Christmas shopping outing. She had told me that she was feeling pressured by more than just a few people to cut back on occasional nights out with friends, concerned that she is not giving enough of her time to her husband and child. Meanwhile, her husband was happily playing Xbox with his friends online. Almost every. Single. Night. She was not the only friend of mine with kids to tell me this.

And boy, did that sound familiar to me… and it made me angry.

Why is it that when women go into motherhood, we are expected to act like nothing else exists in our lives? I’ll admit that there are certain “mom” stereotypes we most certainly fit now – the Target addictions, the yoga pants/messy bun combo, and the badge of honor that we wear on our clothing that can resemble spit up, poo, food stains, and the like. But why do some people still think that once we become mothers, that is our sole identity?

Why is it that when married women and mothers go out with their girlfriends, it’s a sign that she is having troubles or that her marriage is failing, but when husbands and fathers go grab a beer and bowl together, no-one bats an eye?

My name is still Jessie. However, I will be lovingly referred to now as PJ’s mom. (or another one that bugged me after I got married was Dan’s wife. I have a name, come on!!!)

Well, I am here today to let everyone know that I will not be guilted or pressured by anyone into sacrificing everything that is of me for the sake of raising PJ, or any siblings that may come after her. I understand that having children involves some degree of sacrifice and devotion to ensure the kid’s needs are met, but giving all of me, every day for the rest of my life is definitely pushing things too far.

Here are some things that would happen in my life (read: important!) if I decided to make my child the #1 priority.

1. My marriage would suffer.

I love Dan to death. He is my rock, my soulmate, and has been an amazing father. I couldn’t ask for anyone better to come along this wild journey of parenthood with. Just as Dan has made time for me in the past, I need to also make time for Dan too, as he is not just a father. He was a person with his own identity too before we got the news that would change our lives forever. And he still is.

The first few weeks after PJ came into the world were rough for me. Dan was there to make sure that I had what I needed while desperately trying to nurse our daughter and trying to recover from a tear I had acquired downstairs that had to be stitched up. Not to mention the hormones being all over the place, I was a wreck. He had to deal with that. Just as I have to deal with Dan when he has his moments where he feels like a wreck, too. I suppose that’s how marriage works.

And marriages need a lot of work investment to keep things rolling.

We need our date nights. We need to spend quality time with each other. We need to be able to talk about things besides diaper changes and napping schedules with each other. If I put 100% of myself into raising PJ, I will have 0% left for my relationship with Dan. And that would be a recipe for disaster. This is why having a quality babysitter or a fantastic relative who is able to watch our child is worth their weight in gold. There should be no guilt in taking time off from parenting.

And if we’re happy, guess what? We can be that embarrassing pair of parents that smooch, be affectionate, and have fun with each other in front of our kid. I want our daughter to know what a healthy relationship looks like. Those to me are marriage and parent goals!

Maker:L,Date:2017-8-16,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E:Y
Husband Dan holding daughter PJ during our holiday travels.

2. I’d lose myself.

Sure, having a kid involved a lot of sacrifices that needed to be made in my personal life, but I still need more than just food and showers to stay sane.

As a human being, I have needs, wants, and feelings just as valid as anyone else’s. I need some semblance of social interaction with others, outside of my house. Just as I had mentioned in a previous post of mine, I needed something consistent for myself to smooth the transition to parenthood and to keep a sense of normalcy in my life. And I feel that this will also help me develop healthy boundaries that need to be set so that I don’t feel completely drained of life at the end of the day. (I’m locking my bathroom door.)

You know the saying “Happy wife, happy life?” Well, it’s so freaking true. Taking care of myself will enable me to take better care of my family. Even on days where I just want to pack my bags and buy a one-way plane ticket to the nearest beach in California, I’ll still miss my husband and my kid at the end of the day and want to come running right back home to them. Absence does, after all, make the heart grow fonder.

3. My kid will have unrealistic expectations.

I don’t want PJ thinking the universe revolves around her. Or owes her anything. My job as a parent is to raise her to the best of my ability to live without me, not believe that she is royalty and deserves to be waited on hand and foot. She needs to realize that she is not the only being on this planet with needs. (And sure, that one may take a while before it finally kicks in.) I want to pass down the lessons I have learned from my mother about being a decent human being, and how to be considerate of others around her – without being a complete pushover.

More importantly, if she ever decides to have children of her own, I want her to know that her own struggles that she has while raising them are just as valid as they were for me while I was raising her. Of course, I will be there for her when she needs me, just as any parent should be, but I will not subject myself to be her on-demand personal dishwasher, chauffeur, or laundromat. Nor should her kids treat her that way.

So no, my daughter will not be my #1 priority, and that’s okay. And my priorities will change as I get older. As will hers. One day she will leave the nest, and I will be left to figure out what to do with my life once she is old enough to start leading hers. When that day comes, I probably won’t be ready for it. I will most likely bawl my eyes out. I will continue to support her when needed, and hopefully, take a few long vacations with all of the time that I will suddenly get back to myself. But I will still be missing her and loving her, no matter what.