Do Good

There sure seems to be a whole lot of badness out there.

Too much hate. Too much violence. Too many innocent lives lost at the hands of a few evil people. With large-scale global tragedies occurring on a near weekly basis, it’s easy to feel as though bad outweighs the good.

But every day 353,000 little people are born full of goodness.

It is naïve to think every single one of these babies will be raised by people who will nurture the good. But, for the sake of not losing my faith in humanity, I’d like to think most will.

I’d like to think that every day, we are given the chance, or 353,000 chances, to do right. To raise children who will grow up and treat others kindly. To teach our children to be accepting and open minded. To show our children that love will always accomplish more than hate.

I’d like to think that every day, 353,000 more people are added to our army of kindness. That 353,000 more drops are added to the bucket of good that grossly outweighs the few bad seeds causing all this heartache.

There is bad out there. But there is an absolute monsoon of good. Do good. Be good. Teach good. Good will prevail.

In Defense of Beautiful Pictures

 

Without a backstory, the pictures seem to be happy enough.

In one, our little girl lays stretched out in the summer grass, a freshly picked flower in her dirt-stained hand, an easy smile spreading across her lips. In the other, our grinning baby snuggles on a soft blanket, his dark eyes shining while his little hands fidget, fingers knotted together.

They are beautiful pictures captured at very precise moments of what was otherwise a difficult and abbreviated vacation where both kids were sick, and I spent nearly the entire time ping-ponging between whoever needed me more. When recalling the last five days, the adjective insufferable comes to mind, as does the vivid memory of my son throwing up inside my bra.

But my photo stream would beg to differ.

In it, a photo of my daughter at dusk, reaching through the dark leaves of a shadowy tree toward a glowing bulb on a string of lights. In another, she and I laugh while the wind whips our hair around wildly, a vibrant blue sky behind us. In perhaps the most ironic of all, a shot of my sleeping son, who, for all intents and purposes, didn’t sleep while we were gone (and continues to not sleep as I attempt to write this).

To someone who didn’t know better, these pictures make it seem like a pretty idyllic vacation, though I can assure you it was not. Now this isn’t to say it was all terrible. Far from either extreme end of the spectrum, the last five days were actually just pretty standard when living with two small children who are the human equivalent of heatseeking missiles for germs. It was busy and chaotic, and bookended by visits to separate pediatricians. We lost things, and found things, and got our fair share of new bumps and bruises. There were tantrums and tears, just as there was laughter and play.

It was just the latter of which I chose to capture and share with the world.

My reasoning behind this isn’t to broadcast my perfect life, with my well-behaved and always lovely children (sarcasm font). Far from attempting to fake anything, the purpose behind taking (and sharing) beautiful pictures is borne out of a desire to be more positive, and focus on remembering (and acknowledging) all of the tiny little moments that could otherwise be buried in bra barf and massive, back-arching, floor-thumping, red-faced screaming banshee-type tantrums.

Of course, for the sake of being “real”, as if these moments didn’t really exist, I could post a grainy photo of me laying on top of my daughter, pinning all of her flailing limbs to her bed, while I hum to her and beg (and plead, and pray) for her to stop moving and pleasefortheloveofallthatisholygotosleep. I could caption a blurry action shot of me bouncing my baby for the second straight hour in an 86 degree room “I have butt sweat and my armpits smell like the inside of a moccasin worn to Woodstock…and every day since!”

But I don’t. Because we all know how hard it is. And sometimes it’s really nice to remember how it can be easy too, even if it’s just for a second.

IMG_7533


All photos belong to HMDHM, except the cover photo, which I got online a long time ago, but can’t find the original source so if you know it, give a shout-out.

 

 

10 Thoughts of A Mom Trapped Under A Sleeping Baby

Oh, you sweet little snoodle, you woke up! That wasn’t a long enough nap, I’ll hold you and you can go back to sleep.

Look at your sweet little sleeping face. Your puffy little lips, your dark eyelashes. OOOH I could just SMUSH you! I could smush you with kisses. One tiny little kiss on your tiny little lips won’t… GEESH! It was a tiny kiss, it’s not like I bit you. Easy now, easy, just go back to sleep.IMG_4427

Holy crap, you have a lot of earwax. Like, a ton of it. How have I never noticed this before? How embarrassing! I’m just going to gently wipe it… NEVER MIND! Okay, okay, shush shush, I won’t touch you again. Just go back to sleep.

Oh little poodle pie, such sweet little breaths. In and out, in and out. I can almost smell your baby breath. But I can’t. And now I want to. Maybe if I just lift you a tiny bit… OKAY, okay, okay, I won’t move. Just go back to sleep.

My tiny baby, your hard little head nestled into my elbow. Your head is sweaty. My elbow is sweaty. That can’t be comfortable for you. You are probably going to get sweat in your eye. Let me just adjust my arm… ALRIIIIIIIIIIGHT, I won’t. Just quit squirming and go back to sleep.

Oh my love of loves, look at your little fat feet. Tiny toes, with even tinier nails… tiny nails that are jagged and horrible. You look like a baby Ogre. A cute baby Ogre, but still, I should cut those. I wonder if they are sharp? I’m just going to feel… HEY NOW! I’m just looking! I barely even touched them. Close your eyes, just go to sleep.

Sweet baby, your little body is so round. It’s so round and so heavy for 13 pounds. Like, maybe you’re actually 33 pounds, because I’m starting to lose feeling in my arm. Scratch that, my arm is numb, and is limply hanging from the left side of my body. I can’t feel my hand, and I’m starting to panic. Let me just scoot…. SIMMER DOWN NOW, I’m just scooting. A girl has needs, like oxygenated blood flow to her non-dominate, but equally as important, limb! Now try to relax, and go to sleep.

simmer

Little turkey, with your downy baby hair, like a head covered in tiny black feathers. You look like a bird. Like a turkey. Like a baby turkey, except bigger, like a turkey that is socially acceptable to eat. Oh man, I’m hungry. I want Thanksgiving to be here again. I could eat a whole turkey. Maybe I could just slide you into your bed, and make a turkey sandwich to hold me over. I’m just going to slowly… OH FOR THE LOVE, okay, I get it. I can’t move. I won’t move. You just go back to sleep.
Oh you wee little monster, you are so warm. It’s funny that we are the same species, because you feel at least 10 degrees hotter than me. Especially on my stomach, which, now that I’m thinking about it, feels weirdly hot. And wet. Because you peed on me. You peed in your sleep, and now we are both covered in urine. Fantastic. Let me just tuck this rag between… GIVE ME A BREAK, WILL YA?! You peed on me! Okay, alright, okay, shush shush, it’s okay, you just close your eyes.

My snuggly little muffin maker. Sitting here with you makes me so tired. Maybe I’ll just close my eyes and catch a few zzz’s myself. Yes, I’m so drowsy. This feels good. It’s so dark, and quiet, yes, sleep. I will… And now you’re awake. Naturally


image credits: Simmer meme, sleeping baby belongs to HMDHM, nightmare 

I’m Sorry, But Your Statistics Don’t Matter

I’ve had it. With the news of the tragedy in Orlando, my mind is absolutely spinning in an attempt to understand how this could happen again. My heart breaks for the fifty-three people who were murdered at the hands of a permit-carrying gun owner last night. My blood boils thinking about our elected officials who continue to allow this kind of outrageous and unnecessary bloodshed.

This morning we all wake to the same things: Polarized discussions about gun control, and our second amendment rights. The same arguments are thrown around again and again. Statistic wars are started, comparing gun violence to car accidents. Blame is placed on terrorism, religion, ethnicity, or mental health status. The fifty-three innocent people who lost their lives are lumped together under the title of mass shooting victims. A moment of silence will be held, a candle light vigil organized and attended. A few politicians will shake their fists and promise a change.

But nothing will change, and as harsh as it sounds, those fifty-three people will soon be forgotten by the heaping majority of their fellow Americans.

And then it will happen again.

Rinse. Wash. Repeat.

The victims are always different, the locations varied. Sometimes there is a reason (though this in no way justifies the action), sometimes there isn’t. But there is always one thing in common. Guns.

Not religion. Not ethnicity. Not intolerance. Not hate. Not terrorism. Guns are the common denominator.

America has a problem with guns.

We have shown time and time again that we are incapable of implementing a system for responsible usage, and yet, for reasons that are absolutely beyond me, we refuse to regulate them in any semblance of a reasonable manner.

The constitution got a lot of things right when it was first drafted, but much has changed in the nearly two-hundred and twenty-nine years since it was signed, and with the deadliest mass shooting in American history now in the books, isn’t it time we put our collective foot down and loudly declare enough is enough?

How many more people have to die before we demand a change? How many more lives can we comfortably justify the loss of in the name of maintaining our outdated and utterly abused right to bear arms? The weapons we are so vehemently defending our made-up right to possess are coming at the cost of human lives. Innocent men, women, and children are dying because we want to own something we don’t need.

Owning a gun shouldn’t be a right, it should be a privilege. And until we prove we are capable of owning them responsibly, and regulating them effectively, we shouldn’t have them.  

We can’t effectively or realistically regulate every person, nor can we get rid of murder all together. But, like just about every other first-world country out there, we can regulate guns, and thereby reduce the incidence of mass murder. It’s time. Enough is enough.

rainbow


 

Cover image comic, rainbow ribbon

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

How To Survive Your First Month Of Parenthood

Congratulations! Baby is here, and you’re back home. If you’re anything like me, upon arriving home and sitting your bruised and battered behind down oh-so-delicately on your couch, you gaze upon your snoozing infant with pride, and then promptly wig the fandango out because ohmygodwhatdowedonow?!

Having now survived the first month of parenthood, twice (**enthusiastically pats self on back**), I’ve gleaned a few tips I’d like to share to help you get through this raucous rodeo with as much zen as possible.

Wear comfy clothes: Your body has taken a lickin’. Do it a favor and don’t squeeze it, cram it, squish it or otherwise mess with it by attempting to stuff it into pre-pregnancy clothes. Get a bra that fits. Wear pants that feel like love. One surefire way to add unnecessary stress to your day is by making yourself physically uncomfortable in an attempt to be cute. Screw cute. Do comfy.

cup

Eat: This one is easier said than done, as more often than not any time you go to feed yourself, someone else requests food. Loudly. And as they say, the screaming, frothing at the mouth, purple-faced wheel gets the grease (or the milkshake). But nine times out of ten, if I find myself getting all ragey, it’s because I’m ravenously hungry. So eat. And drink water while you’re at it, too.

Invest in a baby carrier of some sort: Babies like to be held, but even eight pounds gets heavy after hour 1,734. A Moby or Ergo (or whatever you fancy) that turns you into a human marsupial can be a real lifesaver. Or at least a hand and arm free-er-up-er.

Wash yo’ face: I had no idea how hard it would be to find time to shower with two kids, but at the very least, washing my face with hot water makes me feel better. Also, I may or may not use baby wipes on my armpits occasionally. And by occasionally I mean daily.

Make it easy: Give yourself some leeway as you learn the ropes. Now is the time to try out that grocery delivery service, or order something off Amazon you’d normally get at the store. Take any extra pressure off yourself until you find your feet.

Say no: Don’t want to do something? Say no. Don’t want someone to come over and meet the baby for whatever reason you have (and it doesn’t have to be a good one)? Say no. Or have your partner do it for you. You’re the master of this ship. You call the shots.

Say yes: Is someone offering to bring you food? Always say yes. Take up your pal who wants to bring your older kid to the park, or walk your dog, or water your garden. Say yes to things that will reduce your stress by even one iota.

Indulge: There is nothing easy about this time, and finding parts that are enjoyable can be hard. If there is something that brings a smile to your face, do it. Ice cream after dinner (or whenever, for that matter), binging on a shameless reality tv show while you nurse, a couple sleeve of girl scout cookies -whatever floats your boat- do it. Indulge a little because you need all the help you can get.

giphy

This, times about 32 other cookies…

Sleep: Get sleep. Get it however you can. Go to bed at 7pm. Take a nap at 7am. However you can squeeze some sleep into your life, do it. Sleep may not beget sleep, but it does add back a few precious drops of patience to that oft-used well.

Get outside: Feeling punchy? Get outside. Put kiddo in a pack, and walk around the block. Hear the birds. Feel the wind on your face. Almost get run over by a 90-something year-old man who ran a red light, and then realize how much you appreciate your life, even if it sucks a little right now.

Put on some tunes: One of the hardest parts about new parenthood (or just having a new baby in the house) is how isolating it can be. It takes a while to find your groove, so days will go by where socialization doesn’t happen. Turning on the radio, or jamming out to a favorite album can help remind you there is life outside your door, and even if it feels like it, you’re not alone.

Call your doctor if you feel weird: This one is super freaking important. Bringing home a baby is hard. The trifecta of sleep deprivation, hormones, and pain can make it difficult to find your feet. Add to that being solely responsible for someone else’s needs, who, as luck would have it, is incapable of voicing what they want, and you have a recipe for one hell of a headache (at best). While a certain amount of irritability, anxiousness, moodiness and exhaustion are normal, sometimes what you are going through is more serious. A quick call to your doctor or midwife can help you determine how best to proceed, and can give you resources to make your transition into parenthood easier.

boobs leaking


Image credits: Cookie monster, The first 40 years, memes belong to HMDHM