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5 (Totally Cliche) Things I want for Mother’s Day

Mother’s day is my favorite holiday. No, really- it is. I don’t like my birthday that much anymore. I’ve had 31 of them and it’s just gotten a little stale. Christmas involves so much running around and wrapping and cooking and lying my ass off about all the made up ways that Santa breaks into our house and smuggles in dolls and scooters they will surely break their faces on. And let’s face it, I’m doing about 99% of it while my husband’s all like “Hey… what did we get my mom?” and I grind my teeth and try not to punch him while I tell him all about the lovely gift that I picked out while the kids were pummeling each other into the floor of the mall while the T-mobile guy at the kiosk was like “Mamn! T-mobile! Switch to T-mobile!” until I yelled back that T-mobile obviously doesn’t exist anymore and can’t he see I’m a little occupied right now?

Mother’s Day comes without the dreaded T-mobile guy and the wrapping and the forgetting to hang up Christmas lights until 3 am on Christmas morning. There’s no Easter baskets to fill and no bunny trail to leave. It also comes at the perfect time of year when hopefully the sun isn’t scorching my body hairs off yet and the snow is a distant memory. It usually means that the kids try to be good and we get to eat a big brunch and drink alcohol at 10 in the morning so then at least I’m under the illusion that the kids are trying to be good even if they’re throwing bagels at the waitress and yelling about how they don’t like jelly. I’ll just sit there with my 4th mimosa, in my Mother’s Day stupor, looking adoringly at my children anyway because if you can’t do that on Mother’s Day then when can you?

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Aside from the yummy brunch and the stiff drinks, there’s a few other simple things that I love getting when this holiday rolls around. And while I’m fully aware that each and every one of them makes me a total cliche of a mom that doesn’t mean I don’t hope for a couple of them every year.

Here are the things I want for Mother’s Day:

1.Extra sleep– The number one thing on my list is, you guessed it, extra sleep. 15 minutes or an hour, really any amount will do. However long it takes until they’re beating down the door and poking out my eyeballs while my husband looks at his phone on the living room couch and wonders why the room got so quiet. It’s not that long and I usually can’t sleep over the debauchery that’s going on downstairs to begin with. But no matter, even a few extra minutes of shut-eye feels like I’m cheating on my whole family… but in a good way. 

2. Bath Bombs– I hate myself just a little for this one. Like, how is it possible that I love something so much that I used to buy for my grandmother and wonder how they brought her so much joy? Has my life really become that mundane? Don’t answer that. It might be true but it doesn’t change the fact that when I slip into a hot bath after a long day, drop one of those purple suckers in and it fizzes all around me, a wave of gratitude comes over me. My whole body says “Thank you. Thank you, bath bombs for smelling so lovely and fizzing with such enthusiasm. Thank you, children, for being asleep. Thank you, Mother’s Day, for making this dream a reality.”

3. All the coffee. All the wine. A cup of hot coffee, ready and waiting? Yes, please. A bottle of my favorite wine later in the evening, after my brunch buzz has worn off? Not gonna fight ya.

4. An afternoon alone. I really love my kids and I know I should want to be with them all day on Mother’s Day. But here’s the thing- I’m with them every day. I do the school pick-up and the dinner making. Sometimes I work at my computer with four tiny hands groping me and it feels like a million. A million tiny hands all over my body, making me want to rip my clothes off and run naked through the neighborhood until someone has me committed. Because then at least the touching will stop. I love them, but there are few things as pleasant as an entire afternoon spent alone without being felt up to do whatever I want. Go see a movie or wander the streets, asking people for hugs because I haven’t gone that long without being touched in years. I really don’t know what I’d do, but I’m definitely willing to find out.

5. A homemade fucking card. This might be the most cliche of all. My kids make so much stuff and usually it resembles something that’s been through a shredder. But a heartfelt card that they spent a few minutes of their day on, just for me, really hits the spot. It makes all the groping and the yelling in my ear and tugging off my limbs worth it. Even if I have no idea what it says. Even if it leaves my hands sticky and wondering what they hell kind of glue they used. I still want the damn card because it’s Mother’s Day and dammit, I deserve it.

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Dear God, NO! Maternity leave is not “me time”

Mothers know maternity leave is no vacation. It’s not a time for self-reflection or relaxation. And it’s definitely not a time for catching up on sleep. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite of all of those things- It’s a time for taking care of a new baby, every minute of every hour and allowing your body to heal from childbirth. And while the early bonding experience of new parenthood is a beautiful thing, it’s also exhausting and relentless in a way that most of us hadn’t known was truly possible until we had a newborn swaddled in our arms.  

The round-the-clock demands of having an infant can sometimes make a new mother feel she’s lost herself altogether. It’s constant, but to make it even more difficult, many women are forced to take it on with little or no help and very, very little paid time off work. Maternity leave is, in a word, a shit-show and here in the U.S., we get a piss-poor version of it, too. Truly, it’s a recipe for very tired, very drained, sometimes emotionally depleted new mothers, and the rising rates of postpartum mood disorders reflect that.

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But don’t try explaining any of that to Meghann Foye, the 38-year-old author of “MEternity”- a new novel in which she makes the case for why she, a woman with no children, equally deserves her own “maternity leave” because, well, if women with children get paid time off to focus on themselves (wait, what?), then really, why shouldn’t she? Foye’s proclamation is that in order to avoid burnout, she deserves a sort of “sabbatical,” like a standard maternity leave (uhhh.. what?) to refocus her life’s priorities. You might be wondering, what exactly does the author think a standard maternity leave entails? I know I was. But in a recent interview with the New York Post, she gave us an idea.

Foye said, of maternity leave “For women who follow a ‘traditional’ path, this pause often naturally comes in your late 20s or early 30s, when a wedding, pregnancy and babies means that your personal life takes center stage. But for those who end up on the ‘other’ path, that socially mandated time and space for self-reflection may never come.”

Listen, I’m all for women taking any path they should choose, but what exactly is she talking about?

If you’ve ever been on maternity leave before, you’re likely wondering what “pause” Foye is referring to when she talks about maternity leave. Perhaps it’s the “pause” that comes at 4 a.m. when it’s the tenth time you’ve been awoken by a screaming baby. You clumsily make your way to the bathroom to relieve yourself before saddling the baby to your chest, moving as quickly as possible because the screaming is getting louder and louder. You catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. “Dear God,” you think. “Is that even me?” It’s brief, but it’s there. That millisecond. That blink.

Maybe this is the pause the author is referring to. But, I’m really not sure. I’ve been a mother for six and a half years. I’m well out of the postpartum period and I’ve yet to find the pause button, or these moments of quiet self-reflection she refers to. Perhaps Miss Foye can direct me to it because clearly, I’ve been missing something. I’ll be waiting for her call.

But what gets me even more hot and bothered is the “Meternity” author saying that while women who have children are allotted this glamorous break, women who do not have children never get to experience such a thing. Well, I’m not sure how Foye spends her time off work or her vacation time for that matter, but I’m guessing it’s not the same as how most parents use theirs. Most parents end up using vacation time for things like staying home with a sick child, making it to a school event or God-forbid, being sick themselves. Time off is hard to come by when you have a job and a family. And while it might be hard for everyone, it just about evaporates when you decide to become a full-time parent. Perhaps she should “pause” to consider this. But, oh yeah, she thinks maternity leave is a vacay.

This is not a conversation about who works harder- mother’s or non-mothers. We all work hard in our own ways, no questions asked. But Foye is critical of the way her co-workers not only take maternity leave, but also dart out of the office at day’s end to tend to their children (I mean, how selfish of them!). It’s unclear why the author finds this so reprehensible, a woman caring for her child. But to hint that a working woman’s life, in any way, somehow gets easier when she has a baby because of all that pampered maternity “me time” and clocking out of work on time to pick up her kids is completely ludicrous. It’s the craziest thing I’ve heard this decade, and my daughter told me just this morning that she’s going to be an olympic ice-skater. I smiled and nodded my head, remembering our last trip the ice rink, when I dragged her around the rink, hunched over and picking her up off the ice no less than 400 times. My daughter is a terrible ice-skater, but still, her olympic dreams are far less mind-boggling than Foye’s suggestions about working motherhood.

Maternity leave ain’t no vacay, Miss Foye. Caring for a newborn baby is one of the most all-encompassing points in a woman’s life and typically, the time she is allotted to stay home and do that is very small. It’s measly. It’s pathetic. It’s inhumane how quickly we expect new mothers to get back on their feet and assimilate back into their work environments. Most of them end up leaving their newborn babies long before they’re ready and it’s painful. It’s damaging. It’s wrong. Time off from work to be with your baby is not a God damned luxury. It’s a necessity, but it’s also, just a different, likely more demanding type of work. Because no matter how cruel a boss you’ve dealt with, they’ve probably sent you home to sleep at some point. Newborns don’t give a shit about your need to sleep, or take a shower or tuck your breasts back in your shirt before you attempt to devour half a sandwich with one hand.

If there’s one thing Miss Foye and I can agree on it’s this: we all need more “me time.” Mothers and non-mothers alike. But please, I beg of you, don’t act as if maternity leave is a freaking vacation. It is so far from that. Calling it “me time” is a huge slap in the face to working mothers everywhere. 

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What have modern mothers lost?

Pregnancy and new motherhood have historically been times for human connection. In other cultures, experienced mothers take pregnant women under their wing. Those moms- to-be are embraced and a wealth of knowledge, advice and friendship is dispensed upon them from the older, wiser women of the community. During postpartum, new mothers are doted upon, rarely leaving bed, let alone home for weeks. And as their children grow, they are not raised by a single family, but rather have a community of eyes looking out for them and hands to help when they are in need.

As American mothers, this is far from our societal norm. We’re mostly meeting the needs of our own children, with little community behind us, minus doting grandparents (if we’re lucky). And that’s okay. But in this day and age, where we mostly do it all ourselves, it seems we’ve become quick to push away even well-meaning offers of help, love or advice for pregnant women and new mothers. With all the viral lists of “what not to say”, the dos and don’ts, and on-going slew of no-nos, I can’t help but wonder, with all the new rules of motherhood, what have we lost?

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No longer is it commonplace for women to offer well-meaning advice to one another, share experiences or heaven forbid, give love in the form of a pat on the belly. Oh, no. These things are not just frowned upon- they’re considered rude, intrusive and downright reprehensible to subject a pregnant woman or new mother to. Granted, some people lack general common sense. We’ve all felt a bit out of place when a touchy-feely grandmother figure got all up in our business. But, I’m talking about advice or physical contact that comes from friends and family members, or other women in our social circles who’ve experienced pregnancy, birth and motherhood, and have knowledge we don’t yet have. Our mothers and grandmothers, our friends and neighbors- aren’t these the people we should be looking to for help and connection, rather than pushing them away?

It seems to me that all the “dos” and “don’ts” and “things not to say” lists (and don’t get me wrong, I’ve written some myself!), don’t do much to connect new mothers. In fact, all these rules seem to do the opposite. They seem to push us further and further away from one another. These days, new mothers seem to do far more learning on the fly, which is no doubt an essential part of motherhood, but wouldn’t it be easier if instead of turning the other way, we tuned into the wealth of information around us? Wouldn’t our first experiences as new mothers be more calm and less anxiety-ridden, if instead, we let people in? And pertaining to pregnancy, birth and postpartum, we can read all the books and articles we want, but what better source of information is there really, than the experiences of our fellow mothers, the ones we already know and trust?

I can’t think of any.

It’s not easy to let people in- I accept and understand this. We simple don’t live in a culture where people do this on the regular. We sit behind computers and phones all day. We are the most technologically connected and yet, emotionally disconnected society that ever was. So it makes sense that most people, especially people in the vulnerable positions of pregnancy and early motherhood, do not have an easy time letting people into their lives with a lot of enthusiasm. We don’t allow people to pat our bellies, ask how many children we plan to have, or if we plan to breastfeed. We feel enraged if someone mention childbirth, daycare or infant sleep, because, hello- that’s just not okay to talk about!

With all the talk of “the mommy wars” dictating our relationships, it makes sense. We are too afraid of the judgment and ridicule we might experience if we do things wrong or differently. So instead of letting people in, we shut them out. We find people who do things just like us, or no one at all. We pile our bedside tables high with stacks or parenting books and use the internet to do our research, rather than looking down the street to the mom of three (with her own stack of books next to her bed).

I am not pointing fingers- I am just as guilty as anyone of all of this. I spent the first few years of my motherhood experience basically alone. And I’m sure it was not simply because I was the first of my friends to have a child, or because I didn’t live in a community with a lot of mothers. It’s because I was afraid. I was self-conscious in my new role. I was not used to talking about my experiences with something so hard and exhausting, something I thought was supposed to come naturally to me, with other people. I was afraid of looking stupid, or incompetent or like a failure. If someone offered advice, I took it to mean they thought I didn’t know what I was doing. If someone expressed affection, I put up a wall. My motherhood experience belonged to me, and I could do it myself, I thought. Yet, I often wondered why it was so damn hard, and why I was so lonely.

During my second pregnancy, I started to understand how people genuinely felt connected to my experience much more than I did the first time. I’d since felt that same connection to other moms or pregnant women, too. When people reached out to me, I began to look at minor invasions differently. I understood now that words and excitement and hands on my belly came from a good place- no one was trying to be offensive, harmful or invasive. They were simply trying to offer love and support because having your first baby, second, and so on, are times of incredibly transition, anxiety and wonder. Our hearts swell when we see a pregnant woman or a mother caring for an infant and we’re built to feel this way, not to live our lives as separate entities who don’t help or guide or teach one another, especially during the transitions that motherhood brings.

These days, no matter how deeply we feel those connections, we’re also taught to push them away hard and fast. Few people mean to be offensive, or harmful, when giving a loving pat on the belly or words of wisdom. But it is so often, viewed as invasive, as are words of advice or tales from experience. Now, instead of offering advice or support when we see a new mom, we mostly keep our mouths shut, our hands to ourselves. We’ve read one too many lists of rules and we know the things we aren’t supposed to do by now. Even though, we know in our hearts, women don’t often reach out to one another in order to ridicule- it’s to offer help, compassion, friendship, we remain quiet. We play by the rules and leave new moms to fend for themselves, like we did.

I’ve been a mother for over six years now and my thoughts on connection between mothers has shifted. These days, I embrace well-meaning intrusions whenever possible in whatever form they come in. I listen and take advice whenever I can- in fact, I’m desperate for it. I’ve grown comfortable in my skin as a mother and so, I’ve let down my walls. I don’t always agree with what’s being offered. I’ve been around the block long enough to have my own way of doing things, my own ideas, my own motherhood agenda. But even with that being true, now I realize, that there is always the opportunity to learn from the mothers before me, the ones whose daughter is going through puberty, or whose son is struggling in school. There is simply too much to learn, to keep pushing others away, and it’s hard and it’s scary, but becoming a mother is all of those things, too. It’s less scary with community. It’s less scary with connection (and I don’t mean the internet).

New mothers have a lot of worry and sometimes one of those worries is about all the advice they might receive. But that is one I think we should all scratch off our list. Because if we’re so worried about the usually well-meaning intrusions of other mothers that we completely close ourselves off, then that is the saddest thing of all. Motherhood is not a time to isolate ourselves, in fact, it is a time that should connect us through common struggles and experiences. It is a time to let people in, to ask for help and to throw out the damn rulebook. Because while some of the rules might make sense on paper, in real life, the only thing that really matters is having people who are there for you, and there will likely never be a time when you need them more.

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Mom who smokes pot to curb anxiety is doing her best, just like you and me

Mom-blogger, Lea Grover, recently won the hearts of honest moms all over the globe when she admitted in a piece for Cosmopolitan that she smokes pot. Not only that, Grover said she believes smoking marijuana to curb her anxiety makes her a better parent because she can relate better to her kids, break up disputes without getting angry and still feel in control. She also said she never drives her children anywhere after smoking so she doesn’t feel she is putting them in harm’s way.

Grover, who writes the parenting blog “Becoming Super Mommy” says she also has a prescription for anxiety, Xanax, but it typically makes her too sleepy to take good care of her kids. So she prefers marijuana and feels more competent in her ability to parent her 3 kids that way. Even though Grover is upfront about her anxiety (bravo, mama!), she of course is still going to be questioned for her outspoken “drug” use. (Notice the quotations. I’m using the term drug here very lightly). Even though marijuana is medicinal and is often prescribed for the treatment of PTSD and other anxiety disorders, Grover is still being questioned about her intentions and her capabilities as a parent.

Source: Lea Grover's- Author Page via Facebook
Source: Lea Grover’s- Author Page via Facebook

The popular mom-blogger has dealt with her fair share of criticism over the Cosmo piece. Family Safety Expert, Alison Jacobson, said on Fox and friends that she believes Grover’s pot smoking sends the wrong message to kids. She also expressed concerns about what would happen in the case of an emergency. Likewise, parenting expert and physician, Dr. Deborah Gilboa, “Dr. G,” told Yahoo Parenting that her biggest concern was about reaction time, which marijuana is known to delay. “When you are taking care of kids, sometimes reaction time and coordination really matter.”

While in some cases that may be a valid point, ya know what else delays reaction time, Dr. G? Struggling to parent through a deep fog of depression or anxiety. Secondly, the amount of marijuana Grover is smoking is quite small, just one or two hits to better cope with her anxiety. And, by her own admission, she is more capable when under the influence of marijuana than a prescription medication.  She personally feels safer, and that her kids are safer, when not taking a prescription drug. It seems that the women arguing against Grover must not have that much experience with treating anxiety because if they did they would note that it is perhaps the most distracting thing to deal with when it comes to taking care of kids, far more than a puff of a “one-hiter,” which is what Grover uses to smoke.

I would also make the case that while prescription medication is way more socially acceptable (I have many parent friends who openly admit to using anxiety medication on a daily basis) it is equally, if not more powerful, than a couple hits of pot. Likewise, that many friends or more take a nightly sleeping pill, like Ambien, to get a solid night’s rest. No one tells these moms they are doing something wrong- and I’m not going to start. These drugs are prescribed by a doctor and being used appropriately to treat depression, anxiety, or sleeplessness. But in many cases, they are also over-prescribed and when they are used without adequate need, they can cause harm and dependency. While marijuana can no doubt be “habit-forming” it doesn’t possess the same highly addictive qualities that many prescription pills do.

I applaud Grover for doing what feels right to her and having the guts to admit it. As a long-time sleep-struggler, I have sometimes smoked pot to get a better night’s rest. My reason for doing so is that I can be easily awoken if I am needed in the night (I almost always am) and I don’t wake with a “hangover,” like many prescription sleep-aids leave behind.  Smoking a small amount of pot before bed helps me to wake feeling refreshed instead of completely exhausted due to sleeplessness. If something genuinely helps me to take better care of my kids, I have no reason to feel bad about it. Neither does Grover.

While many parents struggle with anxiety and depression and need a bit of help either daily, or once in a while, there aren’t that many parents out there who don’t have a drug of choice, whether or not is it truly a need. Grover contests that she is using pot medicinally, when her anxiety is too much to cope with on her own and I believe it’s a responsible choice. But how many of us don’t have a couple of glasses of wine after a day of one meltdown after the next, or even on our best day? It is completely socially acceptable to drink beer, wine or even whiskey in front of our kids, as well as take prescription medication. Mention marijuana, even being smoked privately, and everyone loses their minds. I guess I just prefer sanity, even when it comes from a weed.

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Stop Dumbing Down Motherhood: Appearances aren’t everything

A new post called “The New Face of Motherhood: Young, Cool Moms Who Are Totally Killing it” recently caught my attention. While the title on it’s own is enough cause for concern, the meat of the article is a bunch of superficial ways in which young mothers are… looking cool while mothering? I guess? If I’m being honest, I’m still kind of unclear on what the author means by “killing it.”

Sheesh. It’s a tough read by anyone’s standards.

First off, …WHAT.THE.MOTHER.FUCK? Since when do moms have to be young OR cool to be “killing it”? Apparently, these moms are “totally owning the parenting game,” though. I almost threw up in my mouth when I typed that, just in case you were wondering.

Though we learn little about the actual women in the photos, we are led to believe that appearances really are everything. The writer shows us a bunch of images of moms taking cute pregnancy shots, feeding their kids all organic or home-made baby food and of course, being uber-stylish while the do it all. Style is, of course, the most important aspect of parenting. DIDN’T YOU KNOW????!!!! Sorry to be the one to break it to you. As I sit here in the same yoga pants I’ve had on for three days in a row, I’m more confident than ever that I am totally failing motherhood.

If looking cute and teaching my kids to use an iPhone are what’s “killing it” in regard to motherhood, that’s pretty fucking sad. And disappointing. Thank goodness the author of this piece is completely confused. I think we’re all really confused after reading that piece of internet garbage. #sorrynotsorry

I thought motherhood was about hard work, dedication, or maybe a love for our kids. How about triumph over difficulties? Hello, single motherhood or moms who freaking work three jobs to keep a roof over their kids heads? No where in this piece are these moms, ya know, the ones who are actually “killing it” represented.

Perhaps, it’s just about selfies and matching bathing suits, though… yeah. That must be it.

Running around with my kids in tye dye and yoga pants... KILLING IT.
Running around with my kids in tye dye and yoga pants… KILLING IT.

I have no doubt that some of the moms in these pictures ARE actually killing it. In fact, I’m a fan or more than one of these adorable women. I am not knocking moms that look cute when doing motherhood! NO. NO. NO. Saying these moms are better or worse than any other mother is exactly what’s wrong with pieces like this. They tell us what motherhood should look like and what is important about it, and likewise, what isn’t.

The reasons the author chose these moms has little to do with their dedication to motherhood, work, or what amazing and inspiring women they actually are. It’s all 100% superficial and it just makes me want to yell “PLEASE, STOP TELLING MOTHERS WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE AND CARE ABOUT IN ORDER TO BE GOOD MOMS. WHY! GOD! WHY!????” I seriously can’t take it. It is so bad for women.

Crap like this makes moms think they have to do all those things to be relevant but guess what moms, you are so important when you are at your sweatiest, grossest, most stressed! That is when you’re in the thick of motherhood. When you overcome all the crap that motherhood throws your way, have to miss your workout for the zillionth time because somebody woke up early from their nap or puked in your hand and you didn’t flip out or cuss everyone out or threaten to run away. That’s when you’re killing it and that’s what we should support and encourage and post pictures of and talk about how awesome those moms are. The struggling, sweaty, real motherhood. Both motherhoods are beautiful. Not just the superficial matchy-matchy pictures or pinteresty party moms. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??? THAT’S JUST ONE TEENY TINY ASPECT OF THAT PERSON’S MOTHERHOOD EXPERIENCE. IT IS NOT THEIR MOTHERHOOD. OMG.

Let me tell you about the times I feel like I’m “killing it” as a mom. They are absolutely not when I’m snapping selfies, wearing a bathing suit that matches my daughters or making sure she’s tech savvy. I was killing it when…

1) My infant son puked every day, 15 times a day and couldn’t be put down for a solid week and we got through it.

2) When my daughter lost her shit for about 6 months and resented the hell out of me and my husband after our second baby was born and we gave her everything we had and could to help her through.

3) When my daughter came down with a rare and terrifying illness when she was 8 weeks old and I pumped every day, all day, like it was my full time job in hopes of continuing breastfeeding after a 2 week hospital stay.

4) When I overcame postpartum anxiety/depression.

5) When I didn’t sleep for about 10 months of my life.

6) Three words: Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Twice.

7) Um… childbirth, anyone????

8) Absolutely any time when I want to scream or yell or cry and instead I am kind when I really don’t want to be.

9) When I sacrifice my time, my body, my work because my kids need me.

10) When I feel good about myself no matter what I look like or what anyone else thinks about me and my motherhood.

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Needing more than to be needed

As a mother who stays at home, works at home, wipes snotty faces and does everything else at home, on any given day, finding time to shower or go to the bathroom is a struggle. When I do, it’s hurried or a spectator sport at best, a crying, massive, ridiculous meltdown in the making at worst. One baby screaming in his crib and flailing his body against the rails while his sister throws things at him or down the stairs or tries to make him dance while he protests and cries harder. Who knew peeing (or God forbid, pooping) could cause such utter chaos? People with bladder control problems and mothers (so basically, just mothers)- that’s who.

The time I have away from my children at this point in my life is very limited. It is almost nonexistent. My husband travels for his job about half the month and during that time, I am holding down the fort and sometimes unraveling, briefly, then putting myself back together before too much damage has been caused. I am always hopeful that by the end of the day, tired children will go to bed easily, sleep well and there will be a few moments in the day for me. That I will end the day on a high note, feeling like I did the best I can do and once they are tucked in my good karma will kick in and I can put my feet up. Usually, that doesn’t happen, but I remain hopeful with each passing day that soon it will.

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Instead what almost always happens is some variation of the following. My daughter gets excited because she has me all to herself. There is no other adult in the kitchen to talk to and sneak glances to or to help me make dinner. Just a baby who doesn’t talk and a 5-year-old who never stops talking. If my mind drifts for a moment my silence is met with “mama!… mama!” I love her adoration of me, but sometimes, it is suffocating and it is overwhelming, especially now that there is another tiny person to feed, clothe, bathe and put to bed, too.

She is in my lap, she is pawing at my hair, she is covering me in garments. Her tiny hands are all over my body. They are on my bare breasts, cozying up to me while the baby nurses. On my face and neck and belly. They are everywhere. They are hands that I love more than anything, but they are playing a very intrinsic part in my combustion. I grit my teeth and take deep breaths and sometimes I say “mommy, needs some space,” but more often than not those words are lost on her.

This feeling rises up in me that I can usually push away. It’s just me. And it will just be me at 3 AM and first thing in the morning and when I’m at my breaking point. Even my breaking point doesn’t matter. There is no getaway, minus when my heart-of-gold neighbor with her own small child offers to take the crying baby so I can jog out my stresses before he implodes from separation anxiety or hunger or angry-baby-itis. Or when my mother watches him while I go to a long overdue dentist appointment, settle into the chair to watch Regis and Kelly and feel like I’m on vacation. That is, until they tell me how pregnancy and hormones have done a number on my gums and holy hell, that hurts and why didn’t I find time to come to the dentist in the last four years?

More often than not, at some point in the day that I start out having the highest hopes for, I feel completely defeated. And I ask myself “why is this so hard?”

On my husband’s most recent trip, my daughter stayed home from her morning preschool due to a mild fever the night before. She’d been running circles around me all day while I tried to not picture the entire lonely week ahead of me.  After hours of making dinner, begging people to eat dinner, cleaning it up, tantrums, baths, nursing, more tantrums, a teething baby who can’t sleep and big kid who was enraged about it, I lost it. I yelled. I sobbed. And then my “me time” that I’d been looking forward to, instead of spending it putting up my feet, watching The Mindy Project, I spent feeling the pangs of horrible, devastating guilt and wondering “how did I become this angry, tired, overwhelmed mom who yells? This isn’t who I wanted to be. This isn’t how it was supposed to be. In fact, it’s the opposite of everything I wanted to be. This isn’t what my motherhood was supposed to look and feel like. This is not my motherhood.”

I spend almost all of my time and energy loving the shit out of my kids. Finding these little magic moments in ordinary days. Kissing dirty faces and being easy going and making sure everyone has gotten enough enough hugs, kind words and discipline. And then I spend just a little bit of time wanting terribly to get away from them. Needing to get away from them. And it’s not because I’m a horrible person or because I’m not enjoying motherhood as much as I should be. It’s not because I’m emotionally unbalanced (well, maybe, a little). Mostly, it’s because “away” doesn’t exist. Breathing easy, being alone, working, writing uninterrupted by a poopy diaper, a spilled drink, or getting hit in the head with a sock monkey, it’s just not a part of my life. Or it’s so fleeting, it’s over before it started.

Even on my best day, when I’m calm, cool and collected, or do a good enough job pretending I am, by 10 PM, sometimes earlier, I just want to curl up in bed and not be needed. I want to do a good job, not a mediocre one, on something I get paid for. I want to prioritize something thats mine, instead of always letting my work, my ambitions, my “chances” slide because there is too much else that’s important. And I let that thought come in, that sounds something like “I can’t see them anymore today. Not right now. Please, stay in bed. Please.” And I let it wash over me and feel the enormity of the guilt that comes with it. Every ounce.

My motherhood experience is not all roses and I don’t need it to be. I don’t need to be told how much I will miss these times because I already know how true that is. The other day I was driving home and I started thinking about when my daughter was two with her white tuft of hair and her long eyelashes and her fearlessness. I got a tear in my eye but I couldn’t finish the thought because she yelled “mama!… answer me!” from the backseat and then it was gone. The opportunity to reminisce, to miss something, evaporated.

The fleetingness of motherhood is with me, always. But so is knowing that I need more than simply to be needed. Part of my motherhood experience is remembering me- the mother. And finding her and telling her she’s important, too. I love my children all the time, but sometimes, I just want to miss them. I want to know what it’s like to come up for air. And I want to know that that’s okay.

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The #AsLongAsYouCanStandIt Challenge

I recently got back from a 3 night/4 day trip with my family. It was wonderful in many ways. Minus sleeping arrangements… apparently it’s not a good idea to have four people sharing a hotel room without another room to shove the sleeping baby in. We could get away with this with one kid… kind of. But I guess these days we will have to shell out for a suite even on shorter trips. Between my husband’s snoring (sorry, hunny) and the kid waking up the baby and baby waking up the kid, there wasn’t much restfulness going on on this trip which I suppose is to be expected at this juncture. But there was a lot of eating and drinking and not much working out. Riding bikes and walking, yeah. But sweaty exercise, not really. I did get to the gym one day, but, felt rushed, per usual and didn’t do my best.

Having a kid who didn’t sleep for the better part of a year who continues to be tough upon every milestone and a energetic 5-year-old… and a husband who travels and my love of food and wine and inability to workout at a moment’s notice… has seriously taken it’s toll on how healthy I feel (or don’t feel). Not to mention, I’m still nursing a baby which although they SAY burns up a ton of calories, it also makes me hungrier and groggier, sometimes. Yes, nursing burns calories. But it also can make your body hold onto extra weight because it knows you are still feeding another human. THIS IS WHAT I’VE READ, OKAY. Let’s not argue. Just let me have my believes that my body is not doomed. BTW… this is about as body-UNpositive as I’ll get. I am totally on board with respecting my body as wonderful and amazing having housed two babies, even if it’s not in prime, tip-top condition currently. But with that being said, I’m needing some extra energy and to feel lighter and healthier. I figure a lot of parents out there may be feeling the same, so I hope we can do this together.

I decided I’m going booze-free for 30 days (this doesn’t mean you have to chose this challenge in order to participate, btw. I don’t know why you would unless you need red-wine-detox as badly as I do). Here’s my regret face after I posted this on Facebook yesterday on the car ride home.

This... is gonna suck.
This… is gonna suck.

The challenge will run for 30 days, starting TODAY, April 13th, 2015. Here’s what it will look like:

1) Pick your goal or goals. For example, my goal is going to be to attempt not drinking for 30 days (yikes) and eat clean(er). I also want to get to yoga or the gym 3 days/week. That one is SO much harder than it sounds right now with a baby that won’t let me out of his sight and screams bloody murder when I try to leave him at the gym stay-and-play. They should call it stay-and-scream-until-we-call-your-mother-on-the-intercom-who’s-crying-because-she-doesn’t-get-to-workout-AGAIN.

2) Post an inspiration shot (or MANY) on Instagram or FB and tag @TheMediocreMama (make sure you are following) and hashtag #AsLongAsYouCanStandIt. OR post on Facebook to The Mediocre Mama fan page and hashtag #AsLongAsYouCanStandIt. These photos will be your entries in the challenge. I’ll be posting tons of pics so you can follow my example. A note about this postings- they do not have to be “LOOK HOW GOOD I DID TODAY!” although those posts are fine, too! But I’m looking for REAL inspiration. Like, “ugh, here’s how much I want wine today and this happened that was crappy and DAMMIT ALL TO HELL!” Tell your struggles, your story, whether it’s work, kids, traveling hubby. What makes this challenge tough for you but why is it important for you to feel good and be your best you?

3) For extra entries, share, share away!! Always tag @TheMediocreMama and use the #AsLongAsYouCanStandIt hashtag to document your challenge.

PRIZES: I’m going to pick three winners. The person who inspires us the most with his/her or her genuine, real life struggles/accomplishments will get a $50 TARGET GIFT CARD! The more you post, the better your odds. I will also pick two other winners with prize packages to be announced at a later date.

Remember, you don’t have to go for a full 30 days- this challenge is shaped by YOU. What do you want to get out of it? It could be as simple as “I’m going to watch less TV” or “I’m going to put my phone away at 5 PM.” It could even be “I’m going to be more mindful” or “be kind to myself.” This is YOUR challenge. Just be sure to document it and hashtag away! Now get going and let me know you are participating by commenting on this post or on Facebook. Get a friend to do it with you so you can encourage one another to stick to your goals. Complaining encouraged!! Good luck!! #AsLongAsYouCanStandIt