Motherhood

What We Mean When We Say Enjoy Every Second

If one were ever inclined to purposefully turn a barely sane mother-on-the-verge into a tornado of rage, they must only utter the words, “Enjoy every second.”

This message is treasured by experienced mothers as if it were a cure-all salve made from unicorn tears. When delivered, it often comes with a knowing smile, and gentle pat on the arm. “Enjoy every second, dear,” says the Grandma at Target while your kid is standing in the checkout isle, pants around their ankles, screaming because you won’t buy them a bottle of rainbow vodka, and the Richard Simmons workout DVD they are white-knuckle clutching in their angry little fist.

Having someone tell me to enjoy every second used to make me want to Hulk-out. It is literally impossible to enjoy every second, and on that merit alone, it’s a dumb thing to say. So much of parenting is tedious and tiring and frustrating and NOT enjoyable in any way shape or form, and anyone who puts that kind of unrealistic pressure on me is obviously clinically insane, and is instantly discredited.

Or at least, that’s how I used to feel.

And then I had a second kid.

Holy time warp, Batman.

Getting my daughter from birth to two and a half, when her brother was born, felt like an eternity. Actually it felt like five or six eternities, because every step was foreign. Every move was questioned, every decision scruitinized. Every cry she let out (and there were a whole metric shit ton of them), was agonized over because I never knew how to handle them, nor could I ever pin point the cause of them.

Having someone casually suggest I enjoy ANY second of that made me want to throat punch them.

But since the birth of her brother, it’s all I can do to NOT focus on these fleeting seconds.

Since his birth almost 10 months ago, not only has he nearly turned into a toddler, but my daughter is now a little girl. Her body is long and lean, and capable of carrying her own things. Her brain is quick and sharp, constantly suprising me with how much she knows. There is not one ounce of baby left in her, and only the teeniest bit of toddler lingering in her graceful movements and wild laughter.

Seeing this makes me acutely aware of how quickly these 10 months have gone. It makes it easier to sit and stare, while my son naps in my lap, trying to etch every lash, every wrinkle, every puff of tiny baby breath into my brain, because I know in another blink of an eye, he will be a boy.

Knowing this, and watching it all happen with lightening speed, I now understand why strangers tell you to enjoy every second.

Parenting is hard, and parenting tiny humans, especially in the beginning, is dock-a-spaceship-on-a-satellite hard (that’s probably a thing, right?). Even if your focus isn’t on “perfection” merely surviving early parenthood is hard enough. Babies, it turns out, are assholes a lot of the time! Spouses can be super freaking annoying about alllllll kinds of things when you’re learning how to parent together. Parents and in laws can cross every boundary you can think of (well, maybe not every one), and make you want to rip out whatever hair hasn’t already fallen out. Work! Pets! That rabbit turd of a man Trump!

All of this is normal (except Trump), and all of this is hard. But all of this serves as a distraction from the magic that is seeing your baby turn into a human in just a few short months.

Of course if the old woman in the checkout line could corner you for 15 minutes, and your half-naked toddler would stop screaming about the Richard Simmons workout DVD so that you could actually hear her quiet wisdom, she’d tell you all of this. But she only has one second of your attention, which is why she condenses it down to three words.

Enjoy every second. Because damn, does it go by fast.

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The Unappreciated Value Of The Mommy Blogger

“What am I doing?”

It’s a question I mumble to myself throughout the day, after I find myself mindlessly putting the milk in the cabinet, or re-snapping the baby’s onesie without first having put on a clean diaper.

More than parenting snafus, it’s one of the many questions my husband and I ponder regularly when trying to make giant, life-altering decisions, while we both navigate and attempt to avoid the rat race we currently find ourselves in. Where should we live? What should we do? What are we doing?

More recently, it’s been a question that pounds in my head with every tap of my keyboard, as I sit and write out things for my blog. With so much on my plate, finding time to write has been hard, but more than that, I constantly question what the purpose of my writing is. What am I trying to say?

A few weeks ago, a fellow blogger went on a now super-viral tirade that said, in essence, all mommy bloggers suck, and nothing we say has any value because it’s all sunshine and rainbows and lies.

This struck a chord, and the already dull ringing of constantly questioning myself bloomed into a full on clock-tower-at-noon sort of chiming. What am I doing?

Some of you may already know this, but (thanks to my writing) I have a job. This job requires me to scour the webs, looking for content to share with the eager, kind, and interactive fans of another much bigger site. I read SO. MANY. BLOGS. Every day, I read through story after story, looking for things that tug at my heart or make me laugh, things that teach me something, or make me nod in agreement as I silently mouth the words “YAAAAASSSSS GIRL!”

Sometimes I read something that seems insincere, or something that seems falsely inflated. But most of the time what I read is pure gold, pulled word by word from the heart, and woven into a story that in the end, more often than not, spells out the same message: You are not alone.

It doesn’t matter what the topic of conversation is, from conceiving or birthing troubles, to body image and toddler drama, and everything in between, the message is almost always the same. You are not alone. We have all been there. You will get through this.

And equally as unifying are the comments. “I needed this today” and “Thanks for sharing this, I didn’t know anyone else felt this way,” show up in just about every single thread generated from these posts.

With each one of these comments, the ringing in my ears becomes a little less, as I talk myself down from quitting blogging once again, and instead try to shift my focus to answering my question.

What am I doing? What are we, as “mommy bloggers” (or just bloggers, really) doing with our words and our stories?

The more I think about it, the clearer it becomes. We are throwing a lifeline, made out of tiny little strung together words, a rope anyone can grab and use to pull themselves up. We are leaving out a string of twinkle lights to follow through the choking fog they may find themselves in. We are sending up smoke signals, and graffitiing the walls, and shouting from the rooftops, and flying those planes that write messages in the sky, just to make sure everyone gets the message: You are not alone.

You are not alone with your fussy newborn, or your frustration and confusion. You are not alone with your miscarriages, abortions, or empty womb. You are not alone with your longing, your anxiety or your depression. You are not alone in your deepest darkest sorrows, or in your unparalleled joys.

We are spreading the word. And hot damn, does it feel good.

I may not know what I am doing when I put the milk in the cabinet, or what my husband and I are doing big picture with our life choices. I may not know what I am doing as a parent, or an owner of a fancy plant that seems intent on dying. But with every post I read, and a few of the posts I’ve written myself, what I’m doing as a blogger gets a little more clear.

We are messengers and story-tellers. We are weavers. We are glue. We are builders and maintainers of a beautiful community. And there is immense value in what we do.

The Weight Of It All

Last night I dreamt I was drowning.

Standing on a branch of tree, I watched as the water grew closer and closer, first creeping over my feet, then inching up my legs. Looking out I could see people on dry land, but was afraid to step into the water because I didn’t know how deep it was, or how I would get to where they stood. Up and up, the water rose, past my knees, past my hips, up to my chin, over my head. I woke up panicked, just as the water completely submerged me.

Sitting here today, on a day that could classified as nothing other than one of those days, it’s not hard to draw meaning from my dream.

I am absolutely drowning.

I’m drowning in stuff. Toys and crayons, laundry and books – a quick survey of my floor would shock even the most tenured of Hollywood maids. I’m drowning in to-dos. Cleaning, organizing, planning, catching up. Piles of things waiting to be sorted, dealt with and filed away. I’m drowning in guilt. Guilt about my parenting failures, about how little one-on-one time I get to spend with my daughter, about the food we eat, and how much TV she’s watched lately while I find my groove as a new mom of two. Guilt about how frustrated I often feel. I’m drowning in the unknown.

With a toddler and a baby, we are at a stage where everything requires so much effort. Nothing is simple. Not a phone call, not a diaper change, not a story or a meal. I can’t take out the trash, or go to the grocery store without disrupting a nap, or sacrificing a round of much needed outdoor playtime. My attention is constantly being requested by one or both of the kids, and any free time I get is usually squeezed into the 20 minutes between when I finally get the baby down and then crawl into bed myself shortly after, completely exhausted.

Hardly enough time to find any kind of balance. Not enough time to recoup any energy.

With two young kids, everything I do requires patience and time, and I’m sad to say, I feel as though I hardly have any left of either. I spend my days in a constant state of triage, trying to judge who, or what, needs my attention the most, often discovering that I’m a day late, and a (fifteen) buck (late fee) short.

I read once that the early childhood is reportedly the most unhappy time in your life. It seems so counterintuitive. How could you be anything but happy when you are cradling your baby, gazing down into their tiny scrunched face? But in the thick of it, I can attest to its truth, and preach of how short-sighted that kind of thinking is.

Because it’s all so much – the love, the joy, the fear, the work, and it all comes on so soon. Sure, you have an idea of what you’re getting into, but much like watching an oncoming wave, you don’t know exactly just how hard it’s going to hit you until you’re actually in it.

And boy howdy, am I ever in it.

These little people, whom I love with every fiber of my entire being, they are taking it all. This beautiful, huge, all-consuming love that pours from my heart, it comes at a cost. And right now, I am paying the price.

My time, my patience, my independence, my own needs and desires – they are all being chewed up and consumed to fuel this crazy love that nurtures these incredible children. “Enjoy the moment!” People say. And I do. But that doesn’t mean I can’t also acknowledge the other side of it. The side that leaves me breathless. The side that feels like I’m drowning.

Much like my dream, I feel overwhelmed by it all. Submerged. Desperate. Unsure of what will happen next. And much like my dream, I can see people on the other side, people with kids who are just a little bit older, and a little bit more independent. “It will get better,” they say, and I know that, too, is true. Motherhood is a job, and just like with any job, adding on a new task (or a new kid) takes some time to figure out.

Sink or swim, I am in the thick of it, with only one option: Just keep going.

And it is here, in the simplicity of having no other choice, that I finally find solace. Just keep going. One step at a time, until we have once again made it through another day. And with every day that passes, we get a little better. The water gets a little more shallow, the other side a little easier to get to.

The weight of it feels unbearable at times. But I’m learning it isn’t.


Image credit: Cover image

The Ten Stages of Accepting Your Post-Baby Body

Having a baby is hard. Getting rid of the evidence (the baby weight, not the baby) is even harder. Two months into it, and I’ve officially arrived at the 10th stage. Hit me up if you want to raid the clearance racks at Old Navy for some seasonal muumuus.

Stage 1: I’m Hot Shit

You’ve just had the baby, and depending on how long your labor was, gone from bloated whale to (relatively) svelte mermaid over the course of a few hours. You’re only a few days into your postpartum journey, but you are digging your new NOT pregnant body, and riding the hormonal high (or swimming through sleep deprivation induced delusions) of how skinny you are…comparatively.

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This is my ‘I’m hot shit’ face.

Stage 2: I’m A Walking Talking Milk Machine Who Will Be In Skinny Jeans In No Time

Weight is pouring off of you. You’re a couple of weeks in, and you feel like every day you lose five pounds. You’re eating more than you’ve ever eaten, but you need it because you’re feeding a baby every 2 hours around the clock.

Stage 3: Sayonara, Maternity Jeans, Hello Pre-Pregnancy…Wait, What The Fuck?

Weight loss is slower, but you’re pretty sure your pre-pregnancy pants will fit. Until you try them on, that is. Then it becomes painfully obvious (literally painful, if you try to button anything) you still have quite a ways to go before your can rock your pre-preggo pantalones once again. But no matter, you just had the baby a few weeks ago. You laugh at yourself for being so silly as you slide back into your maternity jeans, relishing the comfort of the nylon expandable waist, while you finish the box of girl scout cookies.

Stage 4: Your 6 Week Post-natal Check-Up, AKA The First Time You Get Weighed And Fall Into A Deep Depression

You’re feeling good. You can’t wait to get to the doctor’s office and jump on that scale just so your nurse can say, “Damn, girl! You look amazing! I can’t believe you are back to your pre-pregnancy weight, minus five pounds.” But instead you’re blindsided with the news that you have only lost eight pounds, seven of which are accounted for by the baby. This explains why your clothes don’t fit, but is confusing because isn’t the weight supposed to be melting off? When does that start? Should you be wearing more clothes so you are hotter so the weight melts off? What do people actually mean when they say the weight will melt right off? Like, off your body? Not just melt down your torso into your thighs, right?

Stage 5: Damn You Baby Weight, I Will Squeeze You Into Submission

The weight isn’t going anywhere in a hurry, so you decide you will break its will to stay by hurting it. You pack up your maternity clothes, scornfully glaring at their elastic waists, and squeeze your body into your pre-pregnancy clothes. It doesn’t feel good, and if you’re being honest, it doesn’t look that good, but fuck it. Muffin top (or mountain top if you’re like me) be damned, you’re doing this thing.

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At least my muffin top makes me smell like a bakery.

Stage 6: OH MY GOD I CAN’T WEAR CLOTHES ANYMORE

This can happen anywhere from 3 minutes after stage 5 concludes, to anytime you are under pressure, hot, annoyed, moving, breathing or otherwise being alive. Clothes will be removed with haste, but the impressions stamped into your soft flesh from the seams, buttons and zippers will remain as a reminder that your clothes don’t fit. You will lounge around in your skivvies, pondering your options, and dreading doing anything that will require you to get re-dressed.

Stage 7: Two words: Yoga. Pants.

Bless whoever invented yoga pants, for no matter how much you thought you’d never be yoga pants mom, here you are. And you know what? It feels so good.

Stage 8: Sayonara, Yoga Pants, Hello Pre-Pregnancy…Wait, WHAT THE FUCK?!

It’s been months. You had a salad for dinner last night. You’ve been working out, sort of. But more than all of these things, you’ve been sustaining a growing human with food your own body is producing FOR MONTHS, and your goddamn clothes still don’t fit. You hate your clothes, and seriously contemplate burning them in the alley next to the old mattress that someone spray painted a giant green weiner on.

Stage 9: Deep Muffin-Top Induced Depression

You are tired of wearing yoga pants. Your jeans make you feel like your legs are being eaten by anacondas. Your husband may or may not find you standing in front of your closet, tears in your eyes, as you do your own sad version of the Truffle Shuffle while trying to remove the super saucy tank top that is suffocating your mid-section. All seems lost. You face plant hard into rock bottom.

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GET…THIS…OFF…OF…ME!

Stage 10: Time To Buy New Clothes

You wake up one day realizing this weight took 10 months to get on, and will maybe even take 10 months (or more) to come off. Angels sing as you come to terms with your new size, and subsequently cancel your appointment with the banker to take out a second mortgage to pay for lipo. You don your yoga pants, just once more, and proudly go pick up a few things in a size you’d never thought you’d wear. But damn, you look good. And more importantly, you, and your muffin top, are comfortable and happy.

Reasons I Haven’t Brushed My Teeth Today

I was going to brush my teeth, but then the baby started crying. Then toddler wanted pancakes. Then I made pancakes. Then she decided she didn’t want pancakes. Then she decided she wanted yogurt. Easy enough.

Now I will brush my teeth, I said.

I was going to brush my teeth, but the toddler climbed out of her highchair and spilled yogurt on the carpet. Then I cleaned it up. Then the baby started crying for his second breakfast. Then I fed him. Then I fed myself. Moving on.

Now I will brush my teeth, I said.

I was going to brush my teeth, but then I noticed the time – T-minus 20 minutes to story time! Then I got the toddler dressed. Then I buckled the screaming baby into his car seat. Then I threw on dirty jeans and ran out the door. Hurry hurry!

I will brush my teeth when I get back, I said.

I was going to brush my teeth after we got home, but then it was lunchtime for everyone. Then fed the toddler. Then I fed the baby. Then I fed myself. Then I changed all the diapers. Then I put the kids down for a nap. Phew.

Now I will brush my teeth, I said.

But then I remembered the two lonely cupcakes begging to join their cupcake brethren in my belly, so I ate a cupcake. Then, fearing the remaining cupcake would be sad about being alone, I ate the other one. Then the baby woke up. Then the toddler woke up. Damn.

Now I will brush my teeth, I said.

But then the toddler wanted to go to the park, and knowing I would need energy to push her stroller up the hill while carrying the baby in the pack I decided I needed some protein to balance out all that sugar. Then I ate a hardboiled egg. Then asked the toddler to put on her shoes 98,000 times. Oooohhhhh for God’s saaaaaaaaaake.

Now I will brush my teeth, I said.

But then I decided brushing my teeth while there were still bits of egg in them was gross, and I couldn’t find my water glass to rinse out my mouth. Then the toddler was hollering to go to the park. Then the baby was hollering because he is a baby. Then I left the house to walk to the park with two hollering children and stinky egg breath. Here we go.

I will brush my teeth when I get back, I said.

But then I had to cook dinner. Then I had to eat dinner. Then I had to bathe the toddler. Then I had to bathe the baby. Then I had to get the toddler down. Then I had to get the baby down. Holy shit it’s late.

Now I will brush my teeth, I said.

And I did. But there is no way in hell I’m going to floss.

 

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Image credits: Cover image, floss.

To The Superheroes Who Keep Standing When I Would Fall Down- Latest BLUNTMoms Piece

Our conversation starts normally, with particulars exchanged in moments squeezed between acknowledging, encouraging, and parenting our kids as they ping-pong around the room. Ages of children are offered, current employment statuses discussed, and of course comments about the weather are made because this is what adults talk about (right?).

And then a bomb is dropped: Her kid is sick. Like, really sick.

An instant weight falls upon my shoulders as I hear her talk openly about almost losing a child. A tightness in my heart, squeezing, squeezing, as she discusses an unknown future. I stumble with my words, an apology, a well wish, a heavy silence while my brain spins with horrible Hallmark-worthy phrases to offer up.

And all the while, she remains standing. Shoulders back, head up, strong as hell, she talks about what might come, and she is still standing.

This is an excerpt from my latest post up on BLUNTMoms. It’s both a tribute to the incredible strength found in the everyday woman, and a reminder that we all have the ability to access it when needed. Swing by and check it out if you find yourself in need of a pep talk.

Access the rest of the article here.

Days Like This

Oh sweet baby Jesus. I forgot how hard this is.

Anyone who has had a baby will be quick to tell you how hard it is in the beginning, but much like the pains of labor fade (and they do, trust me, you DO NOT remember how shitty that part is), you don’t actually remember how hard it is until you’re in the thick of it.

But I’m here now, and I’m going to tell you, it is hard.

Your body hurts in ways you didn’t even know it could. Your brain is absolute mush. You are more tired than you’ve ever been. And on top of it, you are basically trying to solve a human Rubik’s cube with a very loud alarm that tells you over and over you are doing it wrong.

Even if you’ve already done this before, it’s all new again. Everything is different. Things that worked for your other babies doesn’t work. Or you’ve just forgotten (damn you Moby for making me relearn how to do fabric origami with a 15 foot piece of cloth on no sleep!). Or maybe some things are even easier. But regardless, everything is different.

Well everything except one thing: This is hard.

But here’s the thing. Some days the hard will be too much, or at least it will feel like too much. Some days the tears will outnumber the smiles. Some days all you will do is sit in dirty pajamas and nurse, shush and rock your way from sunrise to sunset, while your messy house, greasy hair, and smelly breath taunt you.

Other days, though, you will get up and get out and feel alive again.

Now there’s no balance to these days, and it may feel like the scales are heavily tipped in the wrong direction. But eventually it will even out, and even further down the line, the scales will tip the other way.

So from one mama in the trenches to any one else out there, sitting in dirty pajamas dreaming of a shower, a cinnamon roll, and about 97 hours of consecutive sleep, I am here to remind you that we will get through this part, too.

And in the mean time, I will be available for Twitter chat or Facebook messenger tonight, and every night for the foreseeable future from the hours of 10:30pm to 1am, when I hand our newest Rubik’s cube over to his daddy with strict instructions to not wake me unless the house is on fire.

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