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!

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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.

 

Categories
Holidays Life

To those who are having a rough holiday season.

This is for you. I see you. I know the holidays can be nothing but an annoying and painful reminder that life is not always “merry and bright”.

Fun fact, did you know that Christmas Music may take a toll on your mental health?

I’m sure it has nothing to do with hearing the same song on repeat over and over while dealing with people who are filled with anything but the holiday spirit. Which may involve said people throwing temper tantrums and cussing like sailors when they don’t get what they want, almost every single day. (Can I get an amen from everyone in the retail/service industries? You guys are superstars.)

When all of these songs are about joy, peace, and love, it can get pounded into your head that you are supposed to be feeling all of these things and that you’re to be happy about it. I don’t know about you, but I do not like the cold. I picked the wrong area to be in during the wintertime in the US, I’ll tell you that. It is hard for me to remain bubbly and happy when I have to get out of a warm and toasty bed to go scrape ice off of my car and lose feeling in my face and hands in below zero temperatures.

Don’t forget the gift giving. Oh, how I loathe the gift giving.

*Queues favorite holiday song – You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch*

Everyone seems to be in a financial struggle these days. Gift giving can just make for more awkwardness and disappointment for already distant relationships with extended family members. I didn’t even have the time or energy this year to send out Christmas cards, let alone afford my bills this month. I’m thankful for those who know me and my situation well enough to not expect anything from me until the financials are in better standing, but it has been difficult. I would love to be able to afford presents, but when it is currently zero degrees where I live, it is more important to keep the heat on. I’m so glad the people I know get this.

 

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PJ’s first Christmas was both busy and tiring! We were all ready for a nap.

 

Dealing with people can be exhausting too, no matter how much you love them. All of the family get-togethers and closeness can be draining to some people. Happen to be hosting the holiday festivities this year? Great! You get to do most if not all of the cooking, cleaning, preparing, and more cleaning… Some people like that stuff. Props to them! I am not one of those people who are able to do that on a regular basis.

So in a world where excessive joy and happiness becomes the norm, it often turns our reality into a dystopia that can take a toll on one’s sanity. When you look on the phone or the computer, you can just see the happiness oozing out of the screen. Looking through social media with all of the group photos, the smiles and hugs between families, significant others, and even their dogs/cats dressed up for the occasion. Everyone on Earth appears to be happy right about now, except for you. Especially when this may be your first, third, or even the eleventh Christmas without a loved one or a friend. My heart goes out to these guys. The pain from this kind of loss can be unbearable, even with all of the support and condolences you get. It is never the same, and you have to slowly find your new normal without them.

Guys, do me a favor and let out your Grinch. It’s okay to feel this way. Take extra care of yourself this season and try not to let the happy police get to you. Have a good cry, break things (safely), embrace these feelings and then make like Elsa from Frozen and let them go. Then come January, you can have a go at trying it all over again. I’m right there with you.

Now excuse me while I go pick up a constipated, teething little girl from her nap. She hasn’t been happy the last few days, either. Luckily, we will both get to have the chance for a better Christmas next year.

Love you guys!

 

Categories
Life Uncategorized Work

Boobs, bottles and breast pumps: How I managed to survive breastfeeding.

**Okay, here’s a disclaimer before we begin. You are about to read my personal experiences with breastfeeding. I talk about my boobs here and if that makes you uncomfortable, please stop reading now and go do something nice for yourself. Maybe treat yourself to some ice cream and go get your haircut or… something. You do you.**

Alright, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I wanted to rant a little bit about the challenges that I’ve faced while nursing and pumping for my daughter these past 8 months. (Woo! only 4 months until I meet my goal!)

I didn’t really give too much thought of whether I would breastfeed or give formula while I was pregnant. As I was en route to the hospital to deliver PJ, I was at peace with either method, as long as my daughter was getting fed and was healthy, that’s all that mattered to me. Without a second thought, I flung myself into the responsibilities and incredible discipline that came with breastfeeding and pumping.

The first few months were HARD.  The first few weeks? Almost unbearable.

While I spent my first few days with our new little bundle of joy, I was in a complete fog. I think I was still in shock that I had actually delivered my baby without dying and that I was holding her and looking at her for the first time. But soon enough, she became very hungry. The lactation consultant would come into the room and latch her onto my breast but did not really explain to me what I was about to experience.

“It will feel a little tender at first, but nursing shouldn’t hurt.”

Don’t listen to people who tell you this. These kinds of statements are LIES.

I screamed in agony as PJ tried to latch on to nurse for the first time. My boobs were definitely not ready to be my baby’s new chew toy. We had a lot of problems right out the gate. Her latch wasn’t great, as this was a skill that babies actually have to learn to be able to drink at the breast efficiently. I didn’t get the memo that this was something that had to be practiced in order to be able to work. I fumbled with my other breast and tried to perform what was called the “nipple sandwich” in order to feed my squished nipple to PJ.

Surprisingly, if you keep trying to put one of the most sensitive parts of your body into a hungry newborn’s mouth, you end up with pain. Lots of pain. Imagine that.

Tears were rolling down my face as the nurse and lactation consultant tried their best to console me. They believed PJ was not getting enough milk, and so they brought out these small, 3-ounce bottles of Enfamil to feed her and to encourage her to sleep. Even though I knew before stepping into the hospital that I would be okay if breastfeeding didn’t work out, I was totally devastated in the moment. I thought that this was something my body was supposed to do, and I started to think that I was a defective mother right from the start. Of course, this was while my hormones were out of whack and I was far, far away from recovering from the delivery, but my feelings were real.

I didn’t give up. I used the hospital pump religiously around the clock to see if I could give breastfeeding another go. Holding one pump funnel onto one breast, and holding the baby in my other arm, I tried to pump and nurse PJ at the same time in my hospital bed. At the end of the second night, my nipples became raw, cracked and started to bleed a bit. It was not a pretty sight. I was not a pretty sight. I felt like a great big mess the entire time I was recovering.

And then, we got the discharge papers.

I was not ready to go home without knowing I had tried my best to get the milk flowing for my daughter, but I knew the nurses had better things to do than deal with this weeping, squishy blob of a woman who was formerly myself. I kept trying. And kept trying some more.

And then, a miracle happened.

I got a quarter of an ounce of milk from one pump! From just a few drops, I was starting to make more of what I needed to feed PJ, and I was over the moon with this achievement.

But after I got home and googled everything about breastfeeding and why I was having so much trouble, I found that what I was experiencing was NORMAL.

Apparently, most newborns only need about an ounce or so of milk in the first week of life. And it is common for women to make only an ounce or less in the beginning. And the nurses were giving my newborn 3-oz bottles of formula. Huh.

The pain eventually started to subside as I kept pumping and nursing, but it wasn’t until after 4 long months that I noticed it became a little less painful. I was able to get used to the sensation at that point.

I used my pump at home just as religiously while I was on my medical leave, practicing for the big day when I would be returning to my office job, about a half an hour away from home. Bigger challenges were ahead of me, but for the moment, I was just happy to be out of the hospital and back home where I needed to be for the next few weeks.

 

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What my HR manager and I  originally wanted to use as a “do not disturb” sign.

Returning to work was another great obstacle I faced when trying to keep my milk supply up and prevent some painful conditions, such as mastitis. Babies are not very predictable creatures. They don’t always eat the same amount at the same time each day. My boobs were engorged, confused, and feeling raw on a good day. You don’t wanna know what a bad day was like.

Also, with the new laws in place to protect breastfeeding mothers, my previous employer was required to give me a pumping area (that was not a restroom) to use during the workday. Which I had no idea about and I was perfectly prepared to go pump in my car if needed. That probably would have been pretty awkward to some poor person who had to walk by my car in the parking lot.

I believe I got a pretty decent setup. A cute and comfy chair from Target and a small Ikea-like table were set in a small supply closet, next to a mini refrigerator to store any pumped milk. (So the other coworkers would not confuse my breast milk with the coffee creamer, I’m sure.)

My Human Resources Manager at the time was super supportive of the decision to breastfeed my daughter and the company was happy to assist me with whatever I needed within reason. However, when things were starting to pile up at work, it would cut into my pumping time and would cause me to be in an incredible amount of pain if I didn’t take care of business – at least two to three times during the workday. A dual electric pump was a necessity. I was so thankful that my insurance covered a Spectra S2 breast pump that I used at home, and that I received a Medela Pump in Style breast pump from my baby shower to use at work. I carried that Medela EVERYWHERE, and I loved that it was so discreet. It just looked like I was carrying around a harmless black tote bag.

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The Spectra S2 (above) and the Medela Pump in Style Advanced (below).

Having the ability to take work home with me and use flex time if needed was huge, but I also needed to make sure in the long run, I kept work at work and didn’t bring it home with me. I was blessed to have this ability since I know that not every mom has the luxury of even a supply closet to use when needed if she chooses to breastfeed her child after returning to work. There are moms that I know that still need to use the work bathrooms to pump, despite the new laws put in place.

Fast forward a few months later, around the 6-month postpartum mark, and I noticed some changes – the milk I was producing seemed thicker and had more fat content in it. Shortly after I noticed this, I became extremely fatigued after every time I nursed PJ or pumped. I had forgotten that producing milk took a lot of energy from my body, and even more so now that PJ was starting to become more active and alert – she needed the extra energy, and it had to come from somewhere.

It was one of the few times where I actually had to eat more food to keep up with the caloric demands of this new milk. Worried that I would put back on the pounds from pregnancy, I had started to revert back to my old habits and diet, where I would only eat about 1200 calories in a day, along with exercise here and there. I was determined to get back to my pre-baby weight, and even that was considered overweight for my height, at 180 pounds.

However, breastfeeding moms need additional nutrition to keep milk supply up – which can be anywhere between an additional 400 to 500 calories a day or even more. It took some trial and error to realize that even though I was still overweight, I needed to be taking in at least 2000 calories a day. I was definitely not eating enough and I was thankful my mistake didn’t cause any damage to my milk supply.

I have to remember that weight loss after pregnancy is a marathon, not a sprint. I will get there. I hope.

Now I am only 4 months away from meeting my goal of nursing PJ for one entire year. It has been a labor-intensive act, but I am forever grateful that this experience has helped me bond with my daughter and allowed me to slow down enough to spend quality time with her during her first months of life. Also, all the money I saved by not having to buy formula was also a huge bonus.

But after this, I’m definitely going to think twice about breastfeeding and if it would be the best choice once baby #2 comes along. And hopefully, that’s not for another few years.

 

 

Categories
Education School

Be nice to your bus driver.

“Substitute bus driving is one of the hardest jobs ever, but it is so rewarding.”

Sure, the title of school bus driver isn’t exactly the sexiest one out there. When I was younger, I’ve always thought of the bus drivers who drove us around before and after school as cranky, embarrassing old people at best who maybe had hobbies besides driving the bus outside of school hours.

But after this experience I’ve had, I can understand why there is actually a school bus driver shortage as of late. I didn’t realize how much I had taken these guys for granted.

I remember when I finally got my 1992 Buick Century station wagon, complete with the wood panel trim and all – it was my ticket to freedom from the confines of the yellow tank filled with noisy students and limited legroom from all the equipment I was lugging around back in the day. I carried my 20-pound backpack and student violin case everywhere I went.

After getting my parking permits for the high school parking lot, I never really thought about school buses again until about 10 years later, when I found myself in a classroom at a facility where I almost finished my high school diploma. And that facility was Penta Career Center.

I ended up applying for a substitute bus driver position during my job hunt, and I was in the beginning stages of obtaining my Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in the state of Ohio. I didn’t quite know what to expect, as I haven’t stepped foot in this neck of the woods for literally over a decade.

Instinctively, I sunk myself in the back row of the classroom as the instructor entered behind me.

“Oh no, this ain’t a church – you get to sit in the front seat!”

Wonderful.

 

 

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I’m still trying to remember what all of these extra buttons on the dash do… like opening the door. That one is important.

 

The first day wasn’t bad. I was in the room with a bunch of other rookies until the second day, where we had veteran drivers come in to get re-certified. Joe Dietrich was our instructor for the class, and he lovingly referred to the school bus he drove as “Big Yellow”. The veteran drivers filled the entire back row and ended up being about a third of the class. That was when things started to get a little real.

Joe asked, “How many of you guys have had a car pass you and blow your stop sign while you’re dropping off kids?”

Every veteran driver raised their hand.

Joe then showed us some pretty scary videos like a driver’s ed class should. But this time, after having a kid of my own and seeing some of these kids on buses die from cars that did not stop for school buses hit me hard. I was looking forward to putting PJ on a school bus to send her away for the day while I enjoyed the house to myself, but now I was terrified. What if my kid ended up in one of these accidents?

The general public AND the state of Ohio expects the school bus drivers to be perfect and nothing less. They are responsible for the safety of some precious cargo in a nearly 15-ton yellow metal tank that can cruise around at speeds up to 65 MPH on the interstate. That’s a huge responsibility these guys take on every day alone.

Not to mention that kids will be kids and do just what kids do. They are loud. They don’t pay attention to you. They do some pretty stupid stuff (like snorting Crystal Lite drink mix) and can be messy. Very messy. This job is not for the fainthearted. Or for those who value their privacy and space.

When you drive a school bus, you are basically a big yellow brick on the road. Anyone can and will watch what you do. Because you’re big and yellow and loud. You also have the school’s name conveniently right on the sides of your bus, so you are also a glorified Public Relations Manager for the school district you drive for. The parents will just think you are able to just work your magic and be little Johnny’s personal chauffeur… even though there may be 25 other kids on that bus.

I haven’t even started to drive one of these things yet, but just from taking this course, I’ve found a new appreciation for school bus drivers everywhere. You guys take a lot of crap to do a very important job.

So parents and guardians everywhere, be nice to your bus driver. Next time your kid gets on the bus, give them a note or a card to give to the driver that just says thank you for what they do for your child. You’ll have no idea how much that will make their day.

These drivers that are left in this line of work are not in it for the money – they are in it for the kids.

“Those are my kids.” one veteran driver said as we held our group discussions. “During the school year, you watch them grow up, lose teeth, get through some tough stuff. They grow on you.”

Even if I don’t make the cut to be a certified bus driver in Ohio, I’ll definitely take home these stories and experiences to bring awareness to other parents and friends of mine. At least I can be a bus driver’s favorite (or least irritating) parent from this experience someday.


 

**Special thanks to Joe Dietrich for giving me permission to write about my class experience! You can find out more about the Bus Driver Pre-Service Training Program he teaches here. Know a person who could be a great school bus driver? Click here for jobs in the Toledo area!**

Categories
Food

College food hacks you can use now that you’re a parent.

You needed to be crafty when all you could afford was ramen.

And you couldn’t eat this stuff exactly the way you’re supposed to make it every single day without getting sick of it. Even if you love ramen, there has to be a little variety so it doesn’t feel like you’re depriving yourself completely… even though you might be.

Here are some tips and hacks I use to stay afloat while managing the chaos. These little gems have served me well while in school, and have proven to be quite useful during the moments of parenthood when you just can’t even anymore.

1. Get ingredients that work hard.

Here’s my personal list of pantry staples for when things get tight. Good staples are non-perishable and versatile ingredients that can be used in many recipes.

  • Pasta, rice or ramen
  • Flour, sugar, salt and pepper (the basics people take for granted)
  • Canned or frozen veggies/fruits
  • Canned cream of something (Cream of Mushroom, Chicken, etc.)
  • Canned meats (I haven’t resorted to Spam yet, but chicken, tuna, and ham are great ones)
  • Dry or canned beans
  • Broths for soups or bouillon cubes to add for soups
  • Favorite condiment of choice, like ketchup or soy sauce

Some ready to eat canned foods are great to have on hand as well, such as soups and ravioli. Whatever you like is fine, as long as you will be able to eat it.

2. Add veggies to feel a little healthier.

I actually just used this one for dinner tonight. There was about a cup’s worth of leftover frozen broccoli, and I threw that together with a box of (maybe ancient?) Hamburger Helper I had lying in the depths of my kitchen pantry.

You can do this with just about any pasta or soup dish. Just follow the instructions on the packaging of the pasta you are using, then either add a can of drained veggies or thawed and drained frozen veggies.

Who cares if it’s covered in sauce or some cheese to hide the weird textures? You’re still eating them. Go you.

3. Hack your ramen.

Tired of your standard instant ramen? Play it up with other ingredients you have on hand. I love to put a fried or hard boiled egg in with my ramen, along with some scallions, some pork and some other veggies like carrots and onions.

You can also ditch the flavor packet and put in your own sauce or condiment. This opens up a new world of flavor you can have with your little square of nourishment. Or you can try putting the noodles in a salad. I absolutely love this recipe for crunchy ramen salad here.

4. Break the rules.

Here’s a little confession – I know I just said I was making Hamburger Helper for dinner tonight, but I didn’t have any hamburger. But I did have some canned chicken. It was a cheesy pasta mix, so it ended up working out pretty well! Heck, I could have probably made it without any meat. You could probably also use canned tuna for boxed pasta like that and be fine.

You don’t always need to follow the recipe every time to the letter – Try throwing a bunch of stuff you like on its own in a bowl and see what happens.

OK, I’m not saying you throw some vanilla ice cream in with some sriracha sauce, but if that’s your thing, I’m not gonna judge. I’ve thrown someone else’s leftover puppy chow on top of a Arby’s roast beef sandwich before – and I liked it.

5. Breakfast for dinner.

Who says that toast is just for breakfast? Along with the classic buttered toast, you can top that warm and crusty bread with jam and peanut butter, or some egg and avocado for breakfast, tuna and tomato for lunch, or just have it with some soup for dinner.

Also, leftovers from dinner were also packed for lunch many times. I would make enough to pack quickly the night before to take with me to work the next day.

6. Take advantage of free stuff.

You know when you go to Taco Bell every once in a while and see all of the sauces in their little bins near the napkins? Go grab a bunch of those. You can use them at home when you manage to make your own tacos. I’ve also used some of these to spice up bowls of instant ramen, chip dips, and even thrown it on my eggs for breakfast.

Of course, you can also browse for other condiments at other restaurants (maybe pay for something so you don’t get in trouble). Ask for extra ketchup and mayo packets, and you will never have to go buy a bottle of those things ever again. I still do this today.

Have I mentioned that I’m a bit of a cheapskate sometimes? Though I prefer the term “thrifty”.

You can also go to events on college campuses for free food, or go to your local church – some might have soup kitchens or events where you can get free food at. If you’re in need, they may also let you leave with some leftovers, or point you to some other resources that you can use, like food banks. Speaking of those…

7. USE your local food bank.

Finally, if you are really hurting to make due, try and contact your local food bank. They may need you to fill out an eligibility form or something, just to prove you are in need of food assistance. Some criteria they may look for are:

  • Job loss or being laid off
  • Change in household that affects income
  • Flood, fire or other natural disaster

There’s absolutely no shame in making sure you are fed and getting the nutrition you need. Some college campuses even have their own food pantries now. Check with your college to see if they have a program on campus that provide food assistance – they may be able to hook you up with other resources as well if you are struggling financially.

Have any other tips to keeping food on the table? Share them! I’m always interested in finding new ways to not spend all of my money on food.

Categories
Life Uncategorized

No more mommy guilt.

I literally only have three wrapped presents under the Christmas tree for PJ. Her first Christmas is coming up, and I feel like I am a horrible person for only getting her three things, and two of those things are just re-gifted hand-me downs. But still, I’m thankful that after this rough year there are even any presents under our Christmas tree.

PJ is definitely still too young to understand what this holiday is even about or how it is celebrated, but I definitely have my work cut out for me when she DOES understand what is going on. I remember my Christmases fondly when I was younger – my mom (with the help of Santa, or course) made sure there was a huge mountain of presents waiting for both my sister and I on Christmas morning. Those were some of the most exciting days of my childhood.

But why am I feeling like the world’s worst mom right now?

Maybe it’s all of the things I ended up doing to get by this month. Dropping her off at my mother-in-law’s has become a weekly thing. Am I not spending enough quality time with her? Or maybe it was the one time last week we got McDonald’s and I ended up giving PJ some of my cheeseburger and fries. So much for having a healthy baby. Even the TV has become a babysitter in a pinch. I needed to dust off my resume, so I sat her down in front of Little Einsteins for an hour or so to prepare for an interview. But the American Academy of Pediatrics says to avoid screen time for children under age 2. How can I help that if she is already trying to grab my phone from me? All she knows is that its a pretty bunch of lights coming out of a flat, square-looking thing.

It’s difficult, especially with parenting abilities easily judged these days from keyboard warriors behind the screens of the Internet, trying to reinforce the fact that you aren’t doing enough for your kid, or you aren’t doing something the right way. (Have you ever googled ‘sleep training’? Just don’t.)

Did these guys even have kids? Or did they forget what it was like?

I’m so grateful to have a small group of moms (including my own) in my life that can easily say “been there, done that” and remind me that I am not so horrible after all. It may seem silly to others, but someone randomly coming up to me to tell me that I am doing okay is always refreshing to me and it is definitely needed. Especially when moms like us fall in the trap of comparing ourselves to other moms out there, it’s really easy to get discouraged and feel like we are not living up to the ideal standards that are out there today.

Today is one of those days where I feel like a sub-par mom, but I know that these feelings are temporary and they will pass. Especially now that PJ is awake from her nap. As soon as I walk into the room and she sees me, the smile she gives me is enough to melt all of those thoughts about being a bad mom away. And I’m so thankful for that.

 

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Life Uncategorized

I’m not going to do it all.

The universe doesn’t care if you’re Beyonce or the President of the United States – we all get the standard 24 hours in a day. Granted, we don’t have the luxury of having special assistants or personal managers to help schedule and block a day’s timeline perfectly like a game of Tetris. No, we are usually left to fend for ourselves when it comes to managing time. And even with help, things don’t always go to plan. I groan whenever a decently sized plan ends up falling apart, only to hear my mother in law tell me later in a coy but I-told-you-so way – “If you want to make God laugh, make a plan.” (Love you, Alyce!)

I’ve always managed to do just fine with time management in my life before baby. I mean, I had to be good with it, my survival at the time depended on it. I worked three different jobs while in college (full time), and I was also actively participating in three student organizations. I’ve learned more than once that burnout is a nasty beast, and it takes forever and a half with 5 shots of espresso in a Venti sized Starbucks coffee to manage to pick myself back up from the fallout and get moving once again.

I’m still trying to adjust after throwing a baby in the mix, even 8 months after coming home from the hospital. Guys, I still don’t feel “back to normal” yet. In fact, I’m just coming to terms that my life will never go back to what it once was – being able to enjoy a hot cup of coffee is something that I have to literally force myself to have. It is one of the little things that help keep me sane during this time of transition and keeps a sense of normalcy alive, even when everything else around me seems to be going up in flames. Frankly, I was relieved to be going back to work after my medical leave was over, but I was still struggling with how much life had changed when I came home. There was a baby to care for, and chores to be done, and bills to be paid, and errands to be run, and laundry, and cooking, and doctor’s appointments, and… I think you get the point.

My to-do list got way out of control. There was no balance left. There was no “me time” anymore. Something had to give.

I’ve found that adding the little things back into my life has helped me shape firm boundaries that need to be respected so I can be a happier person. (I NEED MY COFFEE.) First, it was the coffee. Then, it was a shower. A good hot shower, not the rushed 5 minute ones just to get myself clean. After that, it was a good meal. I wasn’t eating properly because I was placing the needs of others before me, and it showed. I slowly kept adding things back into my life that made me feel like a person again. Laundry and dishes be damned. They could wait. I had to put myself before the pile of stinky diapers that needed to go out that night.

The struggle with a new identity such as “MOM” can be overwhelming, as new expectations for how you should be as a person are just magically thrust upon you once that baby is conceived. It doesn’t help with the most recent set of standards for moms that have popped up on the picture-perfect Instagram photos and Pinterest posts. Cloth diapering. Organic, homemade baby foods and snacks. Breastfeeding. Cute and stylish outfits that put your 90’s clown-like childhood photos to shame.

You don’t have to do it all. I’m certainly not. Disposable diapers are my time trade-off for a cuppa joe in the morning. I’ll take it! And remember, social media tends to show the better side of a person. People like to post the best of themselves, while hiding and editing out the not-so-perfect aspects. (Like how I need mascara to make it look like I have lashes.)

Do what works for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. There is no shame in calling someone to watch your kid if you need a time out from life. And maybe a margarita.

 

 

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I’m feeding my almost toddler oatmeal while I’m typing this.

And as usual, she’s dropped everything on the floor in hopes to regain my attention. Luckily, my husband has come to the rescue and has scooped her up for a moment while I figure out what to type next for this post.

Motherhood requires an enormous amount of multitasking. And from here on out, I shall cast no judgement on mothers who do similar things –

Ope, hold on – the toaster went off. Husband wants his pop-tarts.

*burns self with hot pop-tarts*

*runs back to laptop*

Okay, I’m back! Where was I again? Oh yes, the multitasking bit. You need a lot of it. I understand how some women end up with the dreaded “Mom Brain” condition. This is when you often lose your train of thought due to constantly switching between tasks and then forgetting what you were originally trying to do in the first place.

So, why did I start this blog? Hold on – I actually legit forgot for a moment… It will come back…

This blog is dedicated to those who are trying to navigate the new perils of what parenthood is like, while trying to find a new normal in their own lives. I want to use this as a place to vent during my own experiences and struggles. I’ve gotten past the point of being afraid of judgement from other people. I’ve just come to accept that, well frankly, haters gonna hate.

So if you’re reading this, welcome! I’m glad you’ve decided to join me in documenting this wonderfully exhausting and crazy new life I’ve jumped into. Enjoy! More posts coming, as soon as I can get my child down for another nap…