2

The Day I Forfeit.

Since baby came around, I’ve somehow become ensnared in the mommy competition. It was a slow downward spiral, and I’m not sure I was entirely cognizant of it until the other day. I was surfing a website I’m subscribed to which focuses on natural childbirth, etc., and something they said made me rather sad about being unable to have an intervention-free birth. And then I had a light bulb moment – why the hell would I be sad or mourn for the birthing process I went through? Our story is our very own, and it wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t have a stroke, or an embolism. My son and I both made it through alive. I have so very much to be grateful for, yet I let my idealism blind me to all of the good fortune I’ve had.

Perfectionism. Bleh.

My life is messy. Yes, yes it is. In fact, I’m pretty sure I found a dirty diaper at the bottom of my diaper bag, today, that had been there for God only knows how long.

…That was an overshare, huh?

I went to a mommy group today and we (inevitably) traded birth stories, and I can’t begin to tell you how good it felt to hear other women tell me they asked for an epidural as soon as they were admitted to the maternity ward.  The truth is, nothing is quite as humbling as raising a little human.  The standard is oh-so-high (this ‘standard’ I’m referring to is my own, but I suspect every mom has this imagined standard in her heart), and entirely impossible to live up to. I could never give my little man everything that he deserves, despite my best intentions. Today, I watched other mommies smile and laugh about it (as opposed to beating their heads against a wall for being the worst mommies ever!), and I decided that I forfeit.  What does that mean, exactly? Well, for me it meant going through and unsubscribing from any webpages/blogs/facebook feeds that left me feeling the slightest bit inadequate. Yep. I am no longer an attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, natural birth advocate according to social media. I am just a mom. The best mom I am capable of being, and that’s just gonna have to be enough for my son. I love him so, so much, that I will never be able to doenough to express that. I give up holding myself to the ‘right way’ of doing things according to all of the latest research.  Because, quite frankly, the anxiety that I’m going to screw my kid up if I don’t do A, B, and C is keeping me from being emotionally present. And in the long run, I think he will appreciate having a mother’s open, joyful heart much more than he will appreciate the time and money she spent dicing up organic avocados in a futile attempt at baby-led weaning. 

Perhaps I simply have too much time on my hands! Maybe tonight I’ll lobby for Baby #2.

 

(…Still laughing…)

 

Okay, friends! Any advice for REAL parenting and letting go of the perfect mommy in my imagination is highly encouraged! 🙂 Please and thank you.

15

Who I am vs. who I’m “supposed” to be.

So. It finally happened.

I was on the phone, today, with a deceptively-kind-sounding salesman, when he said something that revealed the wolf beneath his sheep’s clothing.  He asked me what I ‘do,’ and I replied that I’m a stay-at-home-mom. This guy replies, “Ah, one of those ‘domestic engineers,’ eh? I laughed for about 15 minutes the first time I heard that one!”

Wait.

15 minutes? It’s not that funny. And not all that far from the truth.

Perhaps I was already on edge after reading an article that an acquaintance posted on the lovely Facebook (if you must read it, you can find it here). The gist of said article is that women who choose not to chase after a career for fulfillment are inferior to women who do.

Say what?! Oh no, she didn’t! (But yeah, she really, really did.)

So here’s this poor guy who’s just said exactly the wrong thing to me at exactly the wrong time. Only, I’ve never been faced with this situation before and never even considered how I would handle it because it wasn’t until reading this stupid article that I realized people actually still feel this way.

What a slap in the face. First, some lady writes some obnoxious article arguing that the role I chose to take on in my family contributes nothing to society, and then this guy, this stranger whom I have never spoken with before, laughs at the term ‘domestic engineer,’ as if to say, “Why on earth would you compare something that doesn’t require a college degree to something that someone without a college degree couldn’t possibly have the aptitude to understand?”

Wait, wait, wait… Let me give you some background information.

I got my discharge papers in the mail yesterday. My attempt to go back to school courtesy of the United States Army collapsed around me in the wake of a surprise pregnancy.  And BAM: the unspoken-of, not-so-happy ending to that story arrives yesterday via certified mail.  I am no longer a member of the military. My bonus? Gone. My GI Bill? Nope. That 97 I scored on the ASVAB? Doesn’t. Mean. Shit.

So the message that I’m some sort of failure isn’t just coming from all around me.

If I’m 100% honest, it’s coming from within me, too.

I am so disappointed in myself.  I am such an intelligent woman… I have test scores out the wazoo to prove it. So why the hell can’t I finish anything I start? Why can’t I be that person who powers through college and walks away with a diploma to show for it?

The truth is, it just doesn’t matter enough to me… And the reward isn’t worth the risk. What I’m afraid of (and I think many men and women of my generation can relate) is taking out loans, investing four to six years of my time, doing everything everyone has told me I “need” to do to get ahead – and coming out with a job that pays just over minimum wage. Or, worse, not being able to find a job at all.

There are five or six things I think I would enjoy doing, but the only thing I have ever known I needed to do, the only thing I’ve ever felt called to do, was to be a mother.  I know I’m capable of graduating college.  I just can’t bring myself to give so much to something that matters so little to me. I’ve never been a career-minded person. I’ve always felt most alive with family.

I don’t know that I need to justify this to anyone else. After feeling angry over the whole deal for a couple of hours, I decided Ms. Amy Glass and Mr. Salesman-guy can suck it.

Sadly, I do feel like I need to justify it to myself.

So:

Dear Lindsay,

You are doing something so very worthwhile.  If you need a reminder, just look at the man who’s closest to you – look at the hurt he’s suffered at the hands of a woman who should have made sure he only ever knew what it felt like to be loved.  This world needs more mommies.  Its children need hugs when they’re afraid. They need someone to take their picture, so they know they’re worth remembering. Someone who will stop anything she is doing at any time to make whatever is wrong, right. They need someone to accept them just as they are, wherever they may be. They need to know that, yes, they can make mistakes, and yes, they are still worth loving. Someone in their lives has to take the time to create opportunities for memory-making. Someone has to perfect the art of making a house a home. Someone has to be patient enough to recognize that even though all of the little things she’s doing can sometimes feel like ‘nothing,’ together they add up to something really, really important…

…Love.

I know that sometimes you feel like no one sees the things that you do. No one recognizes the value in the person who washes the dishes and does the laundry and makes the beds and cooks the meals. No one sees the sacrifices you make for your mission, your goal.

But God does.

Please know that everything He’s brought you through up until this point has prepared you for this, and you will not fail. This is what you were created to do. Sometimes you wish you were one of ‘those’ people, and that’s okay. Go ahead and let yourself feel that way if you must. But after you’ve felt it, let it go. You are right where you need to be.

Maybe the people you’ve loved will, one day, recognize just how much of yourself you’ve given. But probably, they will never fully understand.  And that’s okay, too. What you are doing has a forever impact. An eternal impact. For now, make peace with not always being able to see the big picture. And quit trying to change your ‘stripes.’ You are more than enough.

Hugs and kisses,

Me

3

Who needs who, here?

Happy New Year! Kenneth turned 4 months old yesterday…. I wish I could say that it’s gone by so fast, but truthfully, it feels like it’s been WAY longer than four months. I have to admit, there’s been a huge learning curve that I never anticipated when it comes to caring for an infant. Don’t get me wrong, certain things came naturally:  Showering him with affection? Done. Easy. Changing diapers? Middle-of-the-night feedings? Check, and check! He’s a baby, and he requires a lot of attention, but I love the crap out of him so it doesn’t really phase me. 

It’s the little things that no one explains to you about becoming a mother that get me.  How do you balance keeping a home with caring for such a small, defenseless being?  How do you deal with the anxiety of putting him down to walk away and do something else that just doesn’t seem nearly as important, big-picture wise? It’s been really difficult for me to let go. At first, I felt so uneasy any second that I spent not focused on him. I had to have him within arms reach every second of every day (imagine my husband’s disdain when I realized I was a co-sleeper, and he realized he wasted tons of money on nursery furniture!).

I just went out for a few hours alone for the first time this weekend. When I say “for the first time,” I mean for the first time of my own accord. My husband dragged me out on my birthday, so we left Kenneth with a sitter for a few hours, and twice we’ve had to have someone watch him for a couple of hours when we went to counseling.  But just the other day, I had this very sudden, very strong feeling that I needed to get out. I needed to take my ‘mommy’ cap off for awhile, and just be ME.  It felt so good to hang out with one of my girlfriends sans baby, and though I felt a twinge of guilt when I walked out the door, it was appeased when A) I recognized that I left him with his daddy, and I can trust him to take the best care of our precious baby and B) I felt like a new woman when I got home. 

Today, I discovered that having him next to me is part of the reason I’ve found it difficult to get anything done around the house. I left him in bed, turned on the baby monitor (which we’ve used, oh, probably less than 5 times since he was born), and kept it close by as I worked on laundry, cleaning, etc. while he slept. And oh. My. Goodness. I got so much done! It’s hard to explain, but when he’s in the same room as me, I find myself checking on him constantly. Even now as I write this, he’s sleeping in his swing, and I’m glancing over there every 30 seconds, then losing my train of thought. It’s like my “maternal instincts” have been in overdrive since he was born, and are just now starting to wind down.  (I’m glad I’m seeing improvement, otherwise I was going to ask my doctor for some tranquilizers at my next OB appointment! Holy anxiety.)

Re-reading this, I know I sound like a crazy person.  There are probably lots of mommies out there who have had all of their shit together since day one, but I must admit, I am not one of them.  I don’t know if this paranoia is related to my miscarriages, or postpartum hormones, or sleep deprivation, or what… But it could be worse, right? I’m certainly not neglecting him! On the contrary, he is so adored by myself and his daddy. And he’s such a happy baby, you can tell that he knows it! 

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4

Mombie Attack

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I apologize – I know these images may be disturbing to some viewers.  Sadly, I must take the initiative in raising awareness of a nationwide epidemic. The Mombie Virus is running rampant, infecting new mothers across the United States every day. Risk factors include (but are not limited to) mothering a child under 6 months old, being a stay-at-home mom, being a single mom, moms who have chosen to breastfeed, moms whose babies are particularly fussy/high-needs, and moms caring for a newborn as well as a toddler.  If you are a mother who has recently given birth to twins or triplets, you are at even higher risk – please skip to the end of this article and follow the treatment described there as a precautionary measure.

Husbands/new dads, the following are signs/symptoms that your counterpart may be infected with the Mombie Virus:

  • Walking more than 2 feet across your bedroom requires at least one good light source.
  • Upon asking your wife when the last time was that she left the house, she spends more than ten seconds searching for her answer.
  • She’s spent more than one week cycling through the same two pairs of pants (particularly if they are pajama pants).
  • You’ve run out of clean drinking glasses before she’s gotten around to running the dishwasher.
  • You’ve asked your cleaning service to skip a cleaning to give you more time to get your house clean enough for them to clean.
  • She spends the majority of her day topless, as her baby requires constant feeding (this is especially concerning if she has subsequently forgotten what wearing a shirt feels like, and has ventured outside half-naked).
  • She hasn’t had 4 or more consecutive hours of sleep in longer than 6 weeks.
  • She complains of ‘phantom crying,’ believing she’s heard her baby cry when she’s separated from him/her, only to discover the  baby sleeping peacefully once she’s rushed to its aide.
  • She seems consumed or obsessed with the idea of being the perfect mom, and has neglected her own needs in manic pursuit of this elusive status.

If your wife exhibits 5 or more of these symptoms, please execute the following steps immediately – Start by having her spend no less than 45 minutes in a warm bubble bath. Then, send her out the door with your credit card and a map of the closest nail salon and massage parlor.  If she exhibits all nine symptoms, add the closest DSW to the map.  If you’ve followed these directions explicitly, you should see improvement within 24 hours.

**Note: This treatment is only effective if you remove the baby from her care before sending her on her way.