Uncategorized

Why we should stop telling mothers to “enjoy every moment”

You’re in deep with a colicky baby. It’s been a month since you’ve slept more than twenty minutes straight. You finally understand the expression “bone tired” because you feel as if your body is literally crumbling beneath you. In an effort to be heard, to feel understood, to relate to a fellow mother you express your hardships- that your baby never sleeps, that motherhood is bigger than you thought, that you aren’t sure if you’re cut out for it. It’s so hard to even say the words but you desperately want to know that what you’re feeling is okay.

But before you even get past “well, I’m pretty tired…” there’s someone there to put you in your place. “Oh, HUNNY. Enjoy it,” she’ll say. “Enjoy every moment.” And just like that, you’ve failed again. Not only did you actually feel those things you felt, but you tried to talk about them, which makes you an even worse mother than you already feared you might be. “Enjoy it…” it echoes in your ears. Enjoy what? You wonder. All of it? Every goddamn hungry cry? Every inconsolable outburst? Every inconveniently timed poop explosion running down your blouse? The one you finally pulled from your closet in an effort to look like a woman, not a milk truck?

“Well, fuck,” you think. “If I’m supposed to be enjoying this then I’m really fucking screwed.” Because even if you enjoy a lot of it, or most of it, apparently that isn’t good enough. You have to “enjoy every moment,” to really be doing it right. Didn’t you know?

It doesn’t stop in infancy. When your toddlers are running a muck, getting into every last cupboard in your house, smashing dishes, coloring on the walls, mark my words- there will be someone offering up the age-old expression “enjoy it.” It may even be followed by the near constant reminder “it doesn’t last forever.” And in that moment you pray to whatever God you believe in that they are right.

Motherhood is the only arena of our lives that we are made to feel we should be enjoying every waking moment of. But underneath it’s obnoxiousness, the sentiment is usually well-intentioned. It almost always comes from a mother who has walked your same path but is too far from it to remember it accurately. She looks back and idealizes every part of motherhood, no matter what her experiences were. Because the truth is, when our kids are grown, we will all wish we enjoyed it a tiny bit more. We will wish for their baby soft skin, their stutters and that intoxicatingly wonderful new baby smell. No matter how hard or exhausting motherhood is, it does not escape me that this will undoubtedly happen.

While “enjoy it” may be good advice in theory, it’s not actually good advice for a struggling mother. The reason being that it doesn’t help her in any way, shape or form. In fact, it hurts her each and every time she hears it. It makes her wonder what is wrong with her when there is nothing wrong with her. No one enjoys all of motherhood and if they do, please point me in their direction so I can find out where I can get some of what they’re drinking. Or smoking. Or snorting. Whatever. If there is some magic potion that can make me want gobble up every minute of being a mom without ever wanting to scream into a pillow then I’m game.

But there isn’t. There is no magic potion, only time. It comes with looking back and sighing, “I sure wish I’d enjoyed it all a little bit more.” No doubt, it will one day come. But that doesn’t mean it’s not okay to struggle, to be human, to be a mother finding her way. You don’t have to enjoy it all to be a good mother. So let’s stop bullshitting each other. I won’t enjoy every moment. And neither did you.

IMG_0732

Uncategorized

16 Things My Husband is Usually Doing Wrong (According to Me)

Like most loving, decent, kind and patient spouses, I don’t like to rag on my husband. I really don’t! But sometimes his actions make me question if he is in fact, watching an episode of The Office in his head instead of being marginally invested in whatever else he is doing. Like having a conversation with his wife or caring for our two tiny humans.

I love my husband dearly. I’d marry him again if I could. Sometimes I wonder how we even found each other in this crazy mixed up world. In fact, I’d make a list of all the things he is doing right, but it would be too long and too gushy and I’d lose my street cred. Even so, I’ve had to practice patience over the last five years of my life as a spouse and a mother because though raising little ones is tough, I think co-parenting (and co-existing under the same roof at all times) might be even tougher.

2014-03-20 16.21.50-1

Since my partner (for life, ahhh!!… still gets me) also happens to be such a good sport (remind me to add that to the things he’s doing right list)…

Here are 16 things my husband is usually doing wrong (according to me):

1. Not answering questions. I talk. He doesn’t answer. I talk louder. He still doesn’t answer. I talk REALLY loud and he says “geez, why are you screaming?”

2. Not having breasts and therefore not being able to do the midnight feeding, the 2:30 am feeding OR the 5 am feeding.

3. Moving too slowly. This typically pertains to when bedtime is looming, when we have anywhere to be at a specific time or when one of our kids is about 30 seconds away from a huge meltdown. Enter: slow mo.

4. Looking at his phone so much you’d think there was a real life naked woman in there who talks to him and doesn’t leave a trail of breast milk wherever she goes.

5. Coming home with sixty percent of what was on the grocery list and a whole bunch of stuff that wasn’t.

6. Two words. Selective. Hearing.

7. Two more words. Fake. Pooping.

8. Also, getting home from work and immediately excusing himself to poop when I haven’t pooped alone in five years and have been drowning in children all day.

9. Forgetting to flush. If it’s yellow, whatevs, I’m mellow. If it’s brown… PLEASE flush it down. I’ve already seen more poop today than you can possibly imagine.

10. Basically just pooping too much altogether for a thirty year old man.

11. Being able to sleep through crying, whining, and me being body-checked by children.

12. Falling asleep the second his head hits the pillow.

13. Working out twice and losing 8 pounds while I busting my ass at the gym five days a week and still have to wear pants with an elastic waist.

14. Buying so many kinds of good beer that I have no choice but to drink them. Hence #13.

15. Always needing me to find things.

16. Putting clothes on the little people. The tag goes in the back. Always in the back. How he did not think the backwards bathing suit on our four year old looked completely insane is beyond me. We are not raising a mini Christina Aguilera here!

Uncategorized

Parenting Never Gets Easier

When my daughter, now 4, was an infant, I thought having a baby was the hardest thing in the whole entire world. It was my Everest. Everything about it was hard. The nonstop crying, the constant breastfeeding, the being exhausted and hormonal all the time. There’s a pretty good reason why I thought that: because it is hard. And no matter how many people have said it before me, that doesn’t make it any less true. It is just so damn hard.

But the mistake I made was waiting, hoping, wishing for it to get easier. All this waiting I did for things to get easier and while the postpartum fog did lift at some point, as I slowly came out of the trenches and back into the world where actual human beings lived, it never really did. The demands of parenting never really got easier. They just shifted.

Continue reading at HuffPost Parents… 

 

photo

Uncategorized

1,000+ Followers Giveaway!

As promised, giveaway time is here!!! I’m super excited because I’ve never done a giveaway on this site before and I really wanted to have one as a thank you to you all for supporting my writing efforts on this site, as well as the other sites I write for. If I didn’t get encouragement from readers on Facebook and Twitter and on this blog, I probably would not be so passionate about sharing my parenting failings and dilemmas. But I really love doing it so THANK YOU for allowing me to. THANK YOU for following and THANK YOU for not boo-ing me out of town (although, on occasion, some of you have, but that’s okay!!)

Wanna find out what I’m giving away? Okay, here it is.

First up, we have this beautiful print 8×10 by my mama friend and artist “Miranda Makes”. Check out her beautiful Etsy shop, House of Love. This print is a part of her “transportation series” and I just picked one up over at our local Amuse Toy store in Baltimore to decorate my son’s nursery! It sells on Etsy for $20 but our lucky winner gets one just for being so awesomePRINT

Next up! I Heart My Little A-holes by the witty and hilariously self-depricating, Karen Alpert who writes at Baby Sideburns. I LOVE THIS WOMAN. If you don’t follow her page on facebook do it RIGHT NOW. I’m so excited to give a copy of her book to you!

 I Heart My Little A-holes by Karen Alpert

Last but not least, we have a packet of stick-on labels from Kidecals! These are pretty awesome. I use them for labeling things in my kitchen mostly, but the possibilities endless. They are personalized labels that are dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer safe!  Plus they stick to any surface. You can use them on clothing, backpacks, toys, devices…you name it. cloudchalkboard-2-ld1-150x150

All you have to do to enter is…

  1. “LIKE” The Mediocre Mama on Facebook (make sure you are liking not from a business or community page, but from a personal account, otherwise facebook will not count your “like”. 
  2. “LIKE” and share this giveaway directly from Facebook. 

Good luck!!! Thanks to all who enter and to our wonderful contributors. Please go check out their products! I’ll be picking a winner at 2 pm next Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 . 

Uncategorized

A family I never knew I wanted

Five years ago, I came fumbling into the world of parenting. It wasn’t intentional and I thought about the possibility of not becoming one. In the end, my child altered my life for the better. If it hadn’t happened by accident, I never would’ve made the conscious choice to have kids.

Having children is restricting in so many ways. Early mornings take a lot of adjustment and I think the lack of sleep is still one of the most mind-numbingly hard things about it all.

But it’s more than that. It’s that feeling that you are no longer steering the ship of your own life because someone else is. And half the time you don’t know where you’re going or even if you’re going. You’re just along for the ride.

Image

Continue reading at Mamalode…

Uncategorized

How DO YOU overcome postpartum struggles? Um…

I’m currently trying to respond to emails and tweets in response to my last HuffPost piece asking me “how I overcame” my postpartum struggles. This is so hard to answer because it’s such a loaded question. It’s really more like a book than a tweet or even a blog post. But I’m pacing around the upstairs of my house wondering what to write back. I don’t want to leave these women hanging. I don’t get emailed for expert advice all that often, after all. 

But I find myself wondering, did I? Overcome it, that is? The way I see it, postpartum changed me completely. It wasn’t exactly a phase that I one day awoke from. It was a momentous shift in my life and one that I could never turn back from. It was growing up, saying painful goodbyes, learning to look forward instead of back. Does that answer the question? Probably not. 

It was accepting that there was hard, and really hard, and excruciating things in front of me that I couldn’t run away from. That there were things that a shot of tequila and a couple of margs couldn’t fix. That there was an entire life dependent on me because I created it and that that was okay. That I could handle it. That it wasn’t beyond me. It was embracing things I was born with but had to uncover and letting them unfold within me. It was knowing that I was the mother, no longer the child and that I was capable and strong. That it was okay if I was misunderstood, that I had bigger fish to fry. That my life was divided in two, that my heart now lived in two places. 

I don’t know if these things are the right answer. I think you all might want something a bit more black and white or easily attainable, as I did. But there isn’t one answer. There is no cut and dry. It took me years to feel happy, good, centered, like I wasn’t failing all the time. But there are some things I couldn’t have done without.

Here are a few things that helped me that you can actually put your finger on.Image

 

  • Yoga. Not as much the physical practice but the learning to breathe, to let go, to be present (even in the rough moments because they are the ones that help us grow). 
  • A supportive spouse. Sometimes I felt I was teaching my husband how to support me and at the same time learning how to support him. If your partner has no paternity leave (ugh) this is really hard because time together to figure out how to give each other breaks is crucial. It took years and my husband switching jobs to be closer to home and a lot of practice to figure this one out. 
  • Realizing that every stage passes quickly and tomorrow the next stress will seem bigger, more important and likely it will be. Now that I have a four year old with more emotional struggles and awareness I find myself thinking, “oh things were so simple when I could pop her in the car and let her fall asleep.” I know they weren’t really so simple but the grass is always greener, eh? 
  • Babywearing for bonding, yes, but also moments of peace. 
  • Accepting and embracing my new normal. 
  • Learning to say no, a lot. “No, I can’t go to dinner. No, you can’t hold the baby. No, we aren’t coming for a visit.” This is a lot harder for some of us than others. The most assertive mothers I know are by far the more content ones. I’m a work in progress. 
  • Believing in yourself. Knowing that you aren’t screwing it all up, though every mother feels this way at some point. But it’s that insecurity that should really tell you how good of a mother you are because caring is the most important thing you can do. 
  • Finding friends, acquaintances, blogs, books, anyone who understands what you’re going through because feeling alone is the worst part. The truth is you are so not alone. Every day mothers struggle. Every day mothers don’t know how to ask for help. Be brave and start the conversation. 

Now I’ll ask you all the same questions. What were your postpartum struggles? And, who/what helped you? How did you move forward and what can you tell other mothers about this sacred time? I’d love to hear from you! There is so much more to be said and written… 

Uncategorized

The gut-wrenching anxiety of growing your family

There are so many things to worry about as a parent. I sometimes feel as if I’m struggling with a new one each and every day and sometimes I wonder if this new kid will just push me over the edge. Like, will I just give up all together and say “I can’t take it anymore! You kids have to fend for yourselves! Pour me another.”

Probably not. But I really don’t want to let worry get me down either. It’s one of those things about parenting that I didn’t fully expect- how much I’d worry, how much I’d care, the sleep I’d lose over what is going on in my daughter’s life or what I am perceiving at that point in time.

I used to think having an infant, a baby, was the hardest part and once I got through that everything would be gravy. Those times are surely filled with anxiety and adjustment and sleeplessness. But the older my daughter gets, the more emotional needs she has and I often find myself wondering if I’m handling them appropriately. And that, to me, is harder in a lot of ways.

Did I say the right thing? Did I help her in a positive way? Did I give her enough space to let her figure it out (whatever it is)? Did she get her feelings hurt? Does she feel heard? How will she adjust to her new sibling? Will there be enough of me to go around? Am I doing it all wrong?

Sometimes I feel stretched so thin with one kid. How can I possibly have enough love and compassion and concern for a whole other being? I know that I will. I know I will find it, that it will be yet another soul-wrenching, heart-wrenching turning point in my life, literally bringing this new person into creation, making them from scratch and then having no choice but to give a shit about them every day for the rest of their life. I know that.

I know I will step up because motherhood forces you to over and over again. But this fear is partially why I kept my family the way it was for four years. And now here it is. In my body and almost in our lives forever and ever.

photo (43)

But I don’t know this person yet. He’s not totally real to me even when he pushes on my ribs so hard it wakes me from a deep sleep or stretches out so wide across my torso I feel like my entire body has been hijacked. Like there’s no way he’s only 4.25 lbs and the size of a pineapple like the BabyBump emails say. He’s everywhere. And soon he will be here.

It’s so hard to imagine but for a mother when it comes it’s like meeting someone you’ve always known; that’s been with you your whole life. For my daughter, it might not feel the same. It might feel like a betrayal, a jealousy she’s never known, sadness, anger, and yes, hopefully, love. So many big feelings for such a small person. And while I know it’s “normal” it’s also still very frightening because it’s very, very real and it will change us all.

I know it will make her a better person, it will shape her life in a lot of ways and help her to grow. To move into that role of big sister, to learn to be mama’s helper and one of two, instead of our one and only. But if I said there was no fear, only joy, I’d be lying.

Making a family is totally worth it. Watching love grow where it needs to grow is amazing. I’ve done it once before and I have no regrets. But it’s also scary as hell because nothing will ever be the same. And you have to learn to believe good things will come, to grow and simply, to breathe.

Uncategorized

10 Reasons I’m planning a natural birth that have nothing to do with “something to prove”

Let me begin by saying I don’t care what kind of birth anyone else in the whole wide world has. I don’t care if a woman plans for an epidural or ends up getting one when the pain is more than she believes she can take. I don’t care if she gets induced or plans her c-section months in advance. I don’t care if her birth experience is a series of interventions (as long as everyone comes out safe in the end). Her body, her prerogative. Right? Right. 

I do however believe that the way we birth is a choice and in recent years that choice has been taken away from us in an often frightening and forceful way. But as long a woman’s choices are informed and not being forced upon her then it’s really no one’s business but her own what kind of birth she has. Hopefully, that much we can agree on. 

Image
Me and Pipes, Spring 2010

But with that being said, people these days, specifically women, really don’t seem to like the idea of unmedicated or “natural” birth as we’ve come to call it. Mention you are planning one and you will no doubt be met with eyerolls and “what if”s and “what are you trying to prove”s? Or simply “why?” Or even the forceful “why in God’s name would you ever want to experience that kind of pain!? Are you some kind of martyr?”

Having an unmedicated birth can be about a lot more than just trying to prove to the world how strong you are. You grew a human so we already know that anyway. There are all kinds of reasons that birth remains important to many women and we shouldn’t feel badly about that. Of all the things we are taught to feel badly about as women, this really, really should not be one of them. 

Here are ten reasons why I’m planning a natural birth that have nothing to do with something to prove.  

1. Because I want to feel my baby entering the world. Yes, I want to feel it and not because I’m a martyr but because, well, how is that not an incredible thing to feel? It’s a once or twice or maybe three times in a lifetime chance and as long as nature intends, I’m going to take it.

2. Because having a baby is nothing like going to the dentist. It’s not the same as getting a root-canal without being numb (as I’ve heard many argue). It’s just not because where are the perks to that!? I pretty much avoid going to the dentist (when I can) but birth on the other hand, I’m looking forward to. And I’ve done it once before and it basically sucked altogether so that’s saying something.

3. Because I believe the experience has value and is one that every woman should get the opportunity to experience (if she wants it). I believe the experience can be life-changing and I’m a sucker for feeling (and writing about) the real, painfully beautiful parts of life.

4. Pure curiosity. I don’t know about anyone else but unmedicated birth is a huge point of curiosity in my life. It’s something women and mammals have done for centuries and yet it evaded me once, multiplying my intrigue by about a million.

5. Because needles in my spine and other interventions take longer to heal from, both physically and emotionally. The battle scars from my first birth were all from the interventions that occurred, not from the natural course of things. Pain in my back where the epidural went in for about two years, an unnecessary episiotomy that took months to heal properly, not to mention feelings of distrust towards medical professionals who seem to undermine women’s choices (and sometimes health) for the sake of their own agenda.

6. To create the ultimate bonding experience with my child. To feel the oxytocin running through me, the hormone rush, the body’s natural response to childbirth. To not be numb to those things like I was once before. To have that “golden hour” with my offspring to begin our journey together.

7. Because at the heart of it, I’m not really afraid of birth. I have nerves about the pain of birth, yes but most of that comes from the lack of control I had during my first birth. I wasn’t scared before that and so I know that is where my fear comes from. When I really look deep down, I have far more confidence about birth than I do fear.

8. Because I was built for it. I can read all the books that Amazon has to offer, but when it comes down to it, my body knows so much more about birth than my brain and it always will. It has literally been preparing for it since before I was born. I don’t doubt what it can do when nature takes it’s course.

9. Because pain is beauty. I believe that sometimes we have to go through difficult things in life to reap the rewards.

10. Because it just feels right. In my head, in my heart and in my body (here’s hoping). They might not agree on much, but they’re all aligned on this one. 

Uncategorized

6 Unlikely Perks of Motherhood

Motherhood comes with a ton of hardships like sleepless nights and diaper blow-outs. Fortunately, it also comes with some perks you might not have expected. Obviously, there’s the whole endless love part and hugs and cute baby onesies, but here are a few other benefits that are pretty sweet, too…

1. Tax refunds. Upon my first post-kid visit to TurboTax.com, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the universe (er, well, the government) wanted to monetarily acknowledge all the hard work I’d been doing in the baby maintenance department that year. I typed in my new addition and BAM- I just doubled my tax refund! Of course, it didn’t come close to covering L&D costs, diapers, or my many trips to the therapist (kidding, kind of), but I guess that’s a bone to pick with the insurance company. Yay for totally awesome tax refunds that make life with kids a wee bit more manageable!

Continue reading at Scary Mommy…  

Uncategorized

15 things I wish every struggling mother knew

There is so much I still don’t know about parenthood. In fact, there is a lot I will never know. But I’ve picked up a few truisms along the way. Ya know, things that keep me from screaming into a pillow all too often.

These are the things I wish every struggling mother knew:

1. Patience, the kind that parenting requires, is not something  most of us inherently have- it is a practice. Let it evolve, let it grow and watch yourself do the same.

2. One day, sleep will come. It won’t be soon, but it will be worth the wait.

3. Luke warm anything can be too hot, drinks can be too cold and sandwiches can be “too sandwichey.” Act accordingly.

4. Your work is important. And the days where it feels unimportant, it is probably the most important.

5. Persistence is everything. Breathe, don’t quit.

6. Ignoring your kids sometimes is good for the soul.

7. Vacations are completely and totally exhausting in every way.

8. There will be a point in your parenting journey when you are certain you are doing everything wrong and that no one understands you at all. Disregard and move on.

9. The most important thing you can do is to have faith in yourself as a parent.

10. Kids repeat everything they hear on TV or in books. Choose wisely or take being called a “scrub” in stride.

11. In times of trouble, go outside, look around and remember there is a whole world outside of your four walls.

12. Yelling is pretty much never worth it.

13. Don’t believe anyone who acts like they have it all together. None of us are without struggle. Some just try harder to cover it up.

14. Childhood is magical and amazing. You’re the lucky one who gets to participate again. Don’t be a bystander.

15. For every difficult moment, or meltdown, or stage- this too shall pass.

2014-01-12 18.40.10