Category Archives: mommies

Rainbows and Butterflies: Getting Real About Motherhood

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Rainbows and Butterflies: Getting Real About Motherhood

I was really surprised at the response I got writing a blog for Greeley Moms today about being a realistic mom.  It made me realize I am blessed with friends and a circle of people who don’t pretend.  We talk about the good and the far-from-good things about parenting, and we don’t hide the tantrums (ours or the kids’) from one another.  But the comments on and about my blog post make me see that not everyone has that.  Which is really unfortunate.

Here’s the original Greeley Moms post.  Tell me what you think – are you “out” as a real mom?

A friend of mine told me recently that she likes my blog postings because I’m a “REAL mom.” This really surprised me, because I’m no more real than any of the rest of you. But what she meant was that I don’t pretend motherhood is all butterflies and rainbows. What’s unfortunate is that, that reality, that raw emoting about the ups and downs of motherhood, is not the norm…read more

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The Math on Mommy Guilt

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I had a beer Saturday night with one of my best friends, S.  S and I met in the hospital birth-prep class we took while we were pregnant with our first babies.  Her son is a week younger than N, and has been his friend since birth.  We’ve gone together through all of the issues that come with first-time motherhood, and now we’re talking each other through the completely different issues of second-time motherhood.

Last night, S asked me if I ever just cry at night over worry about my kids.  My reassurance that I do, frequently, cry with worry over everything involving my kids led to a conversation topic most moms are very familiar with: guilt.  S said she she doesn’t think most moms worry like that.  I said she need only look at the blogosphere or ask her other mommy friends, and I am positive she will find a huge amount of guilt out there.  More than we can possibly carry in diaper bags already overflowing with worry, insecurity, inadequacy and fear.  In fact, when I googled “mommy guilt”, it took less than a second to come up with 160,000 results.

So there you go, S, we’re far from alone.  Mommy guilt is this thing we all struggle with, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends.  Is it healthy?  Probably not.  Is it the norm?  Definitely.  We spend nights beating ourselves up over the things we should have done, should not have said, should have heard better.  The ways we are screwing our kids up for life, be it by treating our second children differently or coddling the first too much.  We read book after book about the “right” way to parent, adding with every turn of the page yet another thing we could do better.

This “I could do better” attitude of inadequacy is at the center of guilt.  Of mine, at least.  I am willing to bet it’s at the center of a lot of mothers’ guilt.  How we tell that constant feeling inadequacy to f**k off is beyond me.  It’s a level of spiritual work I will strive toward for a long, long time.  Probably until the end of my life, when I will look back and hopefully not wonder too long what I could have done better.

On the Market

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I’ll just put it out there: I’m on the market.  Looking for that special someone who can fill the void in my days and share laughter with me over my kids.  Who gets me and still loves me when I’ve worn sweatpants for two straight weeks.  Yes, I’m looking for a mom-mate.

I have this really great best stayhomemom-friend, Megan.  She’s everything one could want in a mom-mate:  a hysterical, down-to-earth mother of two.  Her boys love my boys, and vice versa.  She taught me that it was not actually a completely impossible to task to leave the house and have fun with a baby and a toddler, and that playdates are not just for people without lives.  And then, she had the nerve to move away to be with her family.  Just like that.  A punch in the stomach to my social/mommy/emotional life.

I also have this really great best stayhomemom-friend, Jessica (yes, Jessica of the cake pops and babysitting genius).   She is also all the things we wish for in mom-friends: funny, supportive, second mother to my kids.  Still likes me even when I’m crabby and bitchy.  Gave me a venting space twice a week for two years and helps me solve all those every day sahm problems.  And then, she had the nerve to not be able to watch N anymore, which resulted in me taking him to preschool and losing my twice-weekly contact with her.  This one I had months to get used to, but it was still a punch in the gut.

Now, I’ll fill you in on something.  When you have kids, there are about a gazillion things people don’t tell you about how life will change.  Likewise, there are about a gazillion things about the life of a stay at home mom that you don’t really think about.  Or, at least, that I didn’t really think about.  For one, you have to have friends to keep you from going insane.  And your friends that you had before you were a mother probably won’t really get you anymore, and your constant obsession with your kids will annoy the hell out of them.  And you won’t really get them anymore, either.  Then, you’ll have to start whoring yourself out to other mothers in search of a play date.  It’s the harsh reality.  If you’ve just had a baby and are considering staying home, don’t think it won’t happen to you.  It will.  Twinkle Babies, Mommy and Me Tumbling, Swimming Lessons…they’re all full of mothers desperate for a connection.

So, as I sit here dwelling on my mom-matelessness and N’s current playmatelessness (another post, soon to come), I propose we all band together and come up with a Match.com for stay-home moms.  Like all the single adults out there, it’s tough to meet people at places like bars and parties because we’re too busy cleaning up puke and soothing angry, teething babies to go to places like bars and parties.   But obviously we’re all online, right?  I mean, we’re blogging, facebooking, pinning.  Why not matching, too?

I’ll get right to work on my profile.  Should be pretty fancy.  I mean, I own sweats in at least half the rainbow of colors.  And I can change a diaper with one hand while texting snarky anecdotes about my kids with the other.  On MommyMatch.com, those will be the types of highly sought-after qualities we’ll list.  Who’s first in line?!

enLIGHTENment. Or, Hello, 2012!

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We have ushered the new year with some very nice days at our house.  Today, I didn’t even count down to naptime.  The boys played well together all day – N only knocked his little brother down once; Baby K kept the high-pitched screaming to a relative minimum.  We laughed and played dinosaurs; we ate snacks and took naps.  Before dinner, I surprised us all with a trip to the new self-serve yogurt shop near our house.  N was excited to sit in their bright orange scoop chairs and eat gummy bears with a little vanilla froyo on the side.  Baby K and I shared a little dish, and he was so pleased with the new cold sensation on his lips.

After the frozen yogurt, our day took one of those sneaky dives that doesn’t even show a hint of brewing below the surface until it rears its ugly head in the form of a public meltdown.   I’m very used to tantrums that happen as an indication that it’s naptime, or tantrums after an overstimulating day.  What takes me by surprise is N’s loss of control in the midst of an otherwise completely mundane activity.  Like driving from one parking lot to another.  I don’t know if he was screaming about cold, or about walking too far to get into the store, or about being afraid that someone would get the red firetruck shopping cart before he got to it.  But all of a sudden, my child was sobbing and screaming that I was parking in the wrong spot when he wanted me to park closer to the entrance.

Much worse than the screaming was the spoiled-as-all-hell tone with which his screams were filled.  Who did he think he was?  I played with him all day, took him out for ice cream, and then drove him to a store, one we could have walked to, because it was winter dusk.  And now he was throwing a fit because we weren’t parking in THE spot he wanted?  I was embarrassed for us both.  I told N he couldn’t ride in the firetruck cart at all, that he would have to walk next to me in the store or ride in a regular cart after that ridiculous behavior.  Which killed him.  Sent him into a slumped-over, howling, hyperventilating lump in his carseat.

I was stuck.  In my head, two voices:  everything I knew I should do as a responsible, consistent parent, and the practical reality.  I had to take this child into the store, where there were other people, and buy groceries for dinner.  I was supposed to stick to the consequence (no fire truck cart) so that I wasn’t rewarding the horrible behavior.  But, again, I had to go into the store with this, and I didn’t want to drag a screaming, out-of-control child through Safeway for half an hour.  So I went with practical.  Made him calm down, talked to him about getting it under control, stopped the hyperventilating.  Let him ride in the fire truck.

Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to my most important resolution for 2012.

This year, I will go easier on myself.  Not to be mistaken for letting myself go, I will give myself a break and quit failing at being a perfect mother.  I will no longer be so busy trying to make it all perfect that I spend all of my time feeling like I can’t.

Instead of listening to the shouting of the parenting books, the rules I know I should follow, and the fear of how others will see my mothering skills all the time, I will forgive myself for faltering and lift a little of the guilt off my shoulders.  Sometimes drawing a hard line on consequences isn’t realistic.  Sometimes, you have to let your kid ride in the fucking fire truck cart and then send him to his room after the fact to give yourself a little peace at the grocery store.  Giving in – or teaching the lesson later instead of right now – once in a while isn’t going to make me a bad mother.  I am even willing to bet that Dr. Sears and the “experts” at Babycenter have changed course mid-meltdown to just get the errand done.

The fit ended, I didn’t feel like N saw me as soft on the fit, he rode in the fire truck and spent 20 minutes in his room when we got home, and I shopped for groceries with two quiet kids.  Problem solved.  Maybe not the perfect mom way, but the perfect-for-this-mom way.  Welcome, 2012!  Cheers to you  and to a year of enLIGHTENment.

I Knew EVERYTHING…and then I had kids

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This is the first of a little series of posts I’ll call “Mommy Myths.”  Because, let’s face it, motherhood is full of myths that we all tell ourselves and each other.  And it’s really inconvenient when reality comes along and slaps us in the face as our kids grow up.

When my little sisters were five or six and I was 25, I went to a movie with my mother and sisters.  It was a children’s movie, and my mom let them talk in basically their regular voices without reminding them to whisper.  At the time, it bothered me horribly because I knew I would never let my own child be so rude in a movie!  That was back before I had an actual child. When I knew EVERYTHING about parenting.

Then a couple years later, I had this baby, and it turned out I knew absolutely nothing about anything.  N was my only guide, and when your guide can’t even hold up his own head or feed himself, the navigational outlook is not fantastic.  The only thing that was made quickly very clear to me was the huge amount of crap I thought was true of parenting until I experienced  parenting.

So, here are a few of the many things I’ve unlearned.  Let’s start with discipline.  Disciplining your own kids is a minefield of disillusionment.

Discipline Myth #1:  Children can be successfully disciplined with positive reinforcement alone.  I knew that it was possible to discipline positively, without ever actually saying “no.”  I also knew it was possible to remain patient and keep in mind that kids are just being kids.  I had taught preschool.  I was an elementary teacher when N was born.  I would manage my own children kindly but firmly, and this method would successfully maintain a calm, well-behaved brood.

After kids:  Hahahaha.  Kind but firm is really great ideal.  Like showering every day when you have little kids.  Or only serving organic foods grown in your backyard.  Reality, though, is filled to the brim with ‘no’ and misbehavior.  Lately, no is the most common word in my household.  N says it to me constantly, I say it to him constantly, we shout it at each other and at the world.

Myth #2: I had the only child on the planet who would hit two years old and still be sweet, easy, and obedient at all times.  Other people’s children just had different temperaments than mine.  Other parents obviously weren’t consistent and kind enough in the first two years of their kids’ lives.  The ‘terrible twos’ were just an excuse for moms to complain about their cute little toddlers.  And the first two or three months of N being two only strengthened my belief in this myth.  He was a late bloomer in the arena of defiance.

After kids: N bloomed.  Boy, did he ever bloom.  One day, he was a sweet little 15-month-old who listened to me, played quietly and didn’t question why he had to do things.  The next day, “no” was his favorite word, preferably shouted rudely and accompanied with an obnoxiously crabby face.  He wouldn’t get dressed in the morning.  He wouldn’t put his jammies on at night.  He hated every kind of food I put in front of him because he only wanted hot dogs and mac ‘n cheese.  He laid on the floor and threw tantrums just like I’d seen those other people’s kids do!  He was a monster!  I look at Baby K now, 9 months old, and it’s hard to believe he’s going to turn on me, too.

Myth #3: I would never yell at/spank/manipulate my child.  My discipline would always be kind but firm, fair and quiet.

After kids:  Turns out that terrible two thing?  It stretches into three.  I’ll let you know if it slides on into four when we get there.  Whoever decided to call this period of time the “terrible twos” obviously didn’t have a three-year-old yet.  After a year of fighting with N, I resorted to all of the above tactics to try and gain control of the situation.  None of them work, they all make me feel like shit, and they go against what I imagine to be my parenting style.  But, again, we all know how to parent SO well until we start to do it.

Five years after the terrible movie experience with my mom and sisters, I find myself sitting at Puss In Boots with N, my mom, and my sisters.  And I let N talk in basically his regular voice half the time without reminding him to whisper until my lets-her-kids-shout-in-the-movie mother has the nerve to lean over and shush him.   Because now that she’s a grandparent, she really does know everything.

Why Mommies Need Nights Out

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I got to wear earrings last night.  Hang-down ones that would normally be perfect for the baby to pull straight through my earlobes.  And high heeled boots.  Got to wear those, too.  I even came home with a bar bracelet on and cheeks rosy from vodka crans.   I went out with adults, and I dressed like one!   This is not an every day thing for me because, well, there isn’t a whole lot to dress for when your boss is your kids.

My usual uniform is something like this:

Sweats or jeans and a tee-shirt, flip flops, hair in a ponytail and a little mascara.  The necklace Baby K likes to chew on if I’m leaving the house.  Hoodie.

Clearly, it’s very classy.  It also makes me feel very fancy and grown-up.  When I’m playing lincoln logs on the carpet and changing diapers.  Normally, I don’t even care.  I’m comfy, and my kids certainly don’t care if Mama is a fashion model. Luckily, because I never will be.

But once in a while, mamas need a little non-mama time, don’t we?  A little time to remember what it was like to drink until 3am and sleep until noon the next day.  To laugh until our cheeks hurt and dance until our feet ache.  A chance to fix our hair for once and put on real makeup.  To feel like someone other than a hungry baby groping for a breast might look our way.

So last night, as I ripped off the drink bracelet and took off the jewelry, I stood for a minute in front of the mirror and reminded myself I actually am more than a mama once in a while.  And that I do own some pretty cute earrings.