Dear Neighbors, Thank You For Being A Part of My Village

I live in the retirement capitol of the world. Literally.

The median age of my town is 67. It’s been referred to as “Heaven’s Waiting Room” and all of the other “near death” jokes you can think of. Bunko, golf, and pickle ball are the focus of most conversations and no one eats dinner after 5:30pm, (which, I’ve somehow comfortably melded into this). The speed limit here is 45 but you must drive at least 15mph under that in the left lane. And, if you’re looking for any establishment to be open after 8pm, you’re out of luck. Our Walmart is open 24 hours, though. That was giant news when it opened.

I have been here the majority of my life and it wasn’t always the most exciting place for children. When I was school-aged, most communities were strictly 55 and over (and still are), meaning, yes, that they discriminate against anyone younger living in them. That said, young families were just dispersed throughout our town since there was not one community that was geared towards that demographic. We were lucky to have one or two kids within a 3 mile radius.

I now have an 8 year old who happens to be an only child. And truth be told, I am one of those moms that hates playing with their kids. Sorry, but it’s true. I am not that kind of fun mom. I will do dance parties, watch movies, go on hikes, go to the beach, go to the pool, but if the play involves my child telling me what to say during imaginary play….nope. Sorry. I suck at it. So, she does rely on her friends, as I believe she should.

About 4-5 years ago, a home builder of those cookie-cutter type housing communities acknowledged the need for a community that appealed to younger families, noticing that this population is growing here.

Low and behold, he was building a monster community where he put in a….water slide.

:::Cue opening gates of heaven music::::

A water slide. Fucking genius. Build it and they will come.

And so all of us young families marched in like zombies to purchase a new home and asked, “Where do we sign?”, declaring, “Take my money!!”. I don’t even think any of us cared what the house necessarily looked like, what the quality was like, or how much it even cost.

There was a water slide. And playgrounds. And walking trails. And kayaks. And even promotional pictures posted of….children playing. It was a Christmas miracle.

So, I’ve painted the picture. My neighborhood houses approximately 75% of the young families of our town here. Slight exaggeration but not really.

The amazing result here is that my child now has built in friends. A plethora of young kids her age. So many that I cannot count. She’s so fortunate to have this. I’m actually envious of her childhood, at the risk of patting myself on the back.

But she’s not the only fortunate one. I am, too.

My neighbors are a huge part of my village. The village it takes to raise a kid. And I’m so thankful.

I’m able to have her put on her handy little GPS watch-phone thing and off she goes, sometimes for hours. Maybe playing video games, maybe playing and outside game of kickball, maybe playing Legos somewhere.

So, yes, my kid is the one that’s always at your house.

But it works both ways.

As I type, I’m listening to fort building and nerf gun wars upstairs after a sleepover, that was complete with popcorn, donuts, and massive amounts of YouTube viewing. Sometimes I have as many as 7 children playing at my house, recording videos, destroying my daughter’s room. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I hope I’m able to give other moms and dads the same breaks, breaks that they certainly deserve, that they give to me.

It might not always be an even amount of time spent between houses. I don’t keep score. My guess is that no, it isn’t. My child probably spends far more time at others’ houses than they spend here because it’s always more fun at someone else’s house.

And if that’s an issue, I would hope someone would speak up and tell me, but I’m assuming we are all in this together. We’re all here for one another, watching our kids grow up together, helping raise them together. (I do expect you to say no to her, as I’ve had to say to your kids, and I expect you to discipline her as you would your own. Again, in this together.)

I love the independence that this neighborhood gives my daughter. I love the freedom it affords her. I’m a huge advocate of breeding healthy independence and freedom because if it can’t start in early childhood, when does it start? When do we stop hovering? When they’re teens and then they go insane with their new freedoms, not knowing exactly how to channel it? I know these are controversial questions, so I’ll answer that for myself…

I’ve realized that having wonderful neighbors allows me to feel safe about letting my child experience things on her own. It has allowed her to make some of her own choices, which aren’t always going to be the right ones, and that’s ok. I trust her. And no, I don’t trust everyone else. Yes, strangers can be dangerous, and I hope I’m doing a decent job of teaching her that. I feel comfortable allowing her to find her way, within reason, because I’m surrounded by a great support system.

I understand that my style of parenting isn’t everyone’s style. We establish that day in and day out with one another, based on the online parenting wars. But I do understand that not everyone agrees with giving their children as much freedom as I give mine. And I definitely respect that. No two parenting styles are alike, which makes the world go round, and ultimately will help my child become more well-rounded, having been exposed to so many different families.

Having all of these amazing people surrounding us, allowing my child to come in and out of their homes, eating their food, playing with their children, even sleeping over at times? I can’t say it enough: I’m so thankful. It’s an amazing advantage and it’s so comforting to know you’re all here. (And special kudos to those parents that imaginary play with my kid. You’re fucking rockstars.)

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being a part of my village. I’m forever thankful. And I hope you feel the same.

 

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The Sneaky Moments of Motherhood

Motherhood is full of moments. Moments that are new, moments that are scary, moments that are frustrating, moments that are full of emotions. Motherhood is this string of moments that sometimes just seem like one long, everlasting moment.

Sometimes you wish for these moments to disappear forever. You wish some away so desperately, because they’re fucking hard. Sometimes you wish you could remember what you felt like in certain moments because things happen so quickly. Time is so accelerated within motherhood. Sometimes you wish you could relive the moments over and over and over because they’re so full of love.

Tonight, I had a moment.

It was a moment with a familiar emotion…but it’s an emotion I have a difficult time describing. It was a moment that I have a difficult time explaining. But it’s worth noting because I know every mom feels this. I know we all have these moments.

It’s this moment of realizing that your child is yours. That your child is growing. That your child is maturing. That your child isn’t little anymore. They’re these moments you realize…it’s happening. They’re becoming…them.

It’s this moment that I can only describe as those “sneaky moments”, because, for me, it’s an emotion that totally sneaks up on me and surprises me from time to time. It overwhelms me.

These moments aren’t to be confused with those of “firsts”. Not like their first word, first step, or first day of school. They aren’t to be confused with moments we’re flooded with pride because of good grades, or a good game, or where their kind heart shows. It isn’t that feeling of simply feeling how much you love them or appreciate their existence.

No. None of those are the same.

Tonight, as I was watching my daughter get ready for bed, she put on some music. This song Capsize that she loves. She sang every word, words that I couldn’t quite make out, but she knew them. She sang these words with such passion and confidence. She was brushing her hair and singing as she looked in the mirror.

She didn’t know I was watching. I was just observing her. All 4’5″ of her 8 year old self. All 74lbs of her.

It wasn’t anything new or out of the ordinary. But I had that sneaky moment. That moment where her life kind of flashed before me.

That moment where I realized she is the same human that was once 7lbs2oz in my arms. The one I didn’t know what to do with as a newborn. The toddler that that loved the word “uh-oh” and that hated sleep. The one that loved her purple baby and her green hospital pacifiers. The one that hated P.E. in kindergarten and didn’t want to learn how to ride a bike until she was almost 7. This is that same little, tiny human that grew inside of me. None of this felt possible in this moment, it didn’t feel real.

These moments take my breath away because it’s kind of too much to take in. It’s too much to reconcile in my mind that this is happening, this tiny human is growing up and becoming a bigger human. In these moments, it’s when I’m blindly reminded that I’m responsible for who she’s becoming and that she’s who she is because of me- the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s these moments where I catch a glimmer of me in her actions, or her body language, or her mannerisms.

It’s in these moments that I feel cheated because I let too many moments go by without noticing.

You know these moments?

I’ve had these moments before, like the time she told me she was embarrassed when I kissed her outside her classroom this past year. And like the time she told me I didn’t need to walk her to class anymore. Or, even in less obvious moments, like the one tonight, and sometimes it’s happened when she simply says something like, “Bye, mom. I’m headed out to play. I have my watch-phone on if you need me”.

Some days, these moments pass me by without evoking that feeling of sneakiness. They’re just another moment of motherhood. But, these sneaky moments. They’re real. They’re powerful. They’re beautiful, magical, scary, and almost frustrating all at the same time. Frustrating only because you know one thing is for sure: you can’t rewind, there is no replay. This is it. It’s happening.

I’m certain some moms have these moments more than others. I’m sure maybe these moments don’t even feel sneaky to other moms like they do to me. But I know we all know these moments. These moments, they’re different. They’re defining. They’re earth shattering, to some degree. They’re sobering because you’re reminded of the tremendous job we have as moms. The enormous and wonderful responsibilities we have to these little humans.

These moments are teaching us. Sit with these moments and listen. Absorb these moments. These moments are telling us ever so subtly to slow down. And they’re also telling us we are doing one hell of a job.

Don’t blink, mamas. The moments are all around us.

 

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Please Don’t Thank Me for Being A Working Mom.

I read this wonderfully sweet post today, thanking us working moms for basically holding down the fort, if you will, in the work force. It was endearing and not at all condescending like some pieces similar to this have been. I felt the author was genuine and all of her words came from a beautiful place. Calling us “true feminist heroes” felt amazing. It really did. I admit, I puffed out my ego for one second. ‘Yeah. Hell yeah. We are feminist heroes. Damn right”.

But listen.

Don’t thank me.

I needed work more than feminism and work needed me.

I am unapologetic for wanting- no, needing- my career.

Yes, I need to work to pay bills, especially as a single mom, but I also need to work to stay sane. I never aspired to be a stay-at-home-mom. I never even aspired to be a mom, if I’m being honest. Not to be confused with not wanting to be a mom at all. I did want a child. It happened, it’s wonderful, and I’m thankful but it wasn’t my sole goal in life. It wasn’t my end all, be all. It wasn’t what would define me. I knew it would probably be a part of my life but I also knew it wouldn’t be my whole life.

And quite frankly, I don’t understand why we shame moms who aren’t fulfilled by motherhood alone. Why we still, in 2017, make moms feel like they should be fulfilled by motherhood alone. Why do we pity working moms?

I cannot tell you how many times I heard, “Ohhhh, you have to work? That must be so hard!”, when my daughter was little. I remember blatantly lying and saying, “yes, yes it is so difficult”. She’s 8 now and I still hear this pity from time to time, especially when I travel for work. I don’t lie anymore.

No. It’s not hard. I mean, yes, motherhood is hard in all of it’s forms, but working is not the hardest part of it. As a matter of a fact, working might be the easiest part of being a mom for me. At least there’s a job description and a manual for my day job. And at times, my job is far easier than being a mom, (especially in the “threenager” years. AmIrite?) It gives me time to myself in some ways. It gives me a break. It gives me my own idenity. It gives my life an additional purpose. It gives me something my child cannot. And, when I travel for work? Hello? Hotels! Alone!

No, It’s not difficult for me to be away from my child while I work. I don’t ache for her during the day, I don’t feel guilt that I’m not with her 24/7. I’m not sad that I’m missing moments. I returned to work at 7 weeks postpartum and I was happy to do so. I was looking forward to having that piece of my life back.

And I don’t feel bad about admitting these things. We, as moms, are sometimes shamed into feeling that we should solely be a mom once we have a child.

Think about this: do we shame and judge fathers this way? Do we hold dads to the same expectations? No. Never have and never will.

Although women have emerged as “bread winners” of families over the last few decades, it’s still far less common and it’s still widely scrutinized. And it’s unfair. The feminist movement fought for equality (and yes, we’re still fighting in so.many.ways.) and I am a proud female business owner, I work my ass off, and I am a mom.

And for those that do choose the path of staying home – wonderful. That is equally as amazing. If some moms are fulfilled by the very, very difficult job of staying at home with their children, kudos. Big fat kudos to them because I wasn’t built for that life. And I’m ok with that. My response when moms say they stay at home is, “Ooohhh, I’m sorry. That must be so hard!”. I am not envious. At all.

I’m certainly not writing this to take sides in any sort “mommy war” of who has the harder position. We are all in the trenches of some tough, tough shit. And that common denominator is simply motherhood. We are all warriors of that same battle, of that same beauty.

The true “thank you” goes out to those feminists who paved the way for women to join the work force, those that gave us a choice in the matter. I am eternally grateful for the pioneers that got us here. I am also grateful for all moms raising amazing, kind-hearted humans, no matter what else they do with their time.

Carry on, warrior mamas. We are all fighting the good fight of raising children the best we know how.

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It Takes Balls To Be A Woman.

“It takes balls to be a woman”. I saw this quoted somewhere and it resonated with me.

Sixteen days ago, two months into being 40, I evicted all of my woman parts. Full hysterectomy.

And yeah, I’m going to go ahead and talk about this because there are a lot of emotions tied to it. But I promise it will be empowering if you stick with me. Let’s Trump-style this conversation and grab it by the pussy. Pun intended. (Too soon?)

First, let’s start by stating the obvious as a gentle reminder- women are goddamn warriors. We are given the glory of all of the burdens throughout life: periods, pregnancy, birth, cramps, hormones, cysts, tumors, pap tests, and alas, menopause. I’ve now traded super-plus tampons and pads for hot flashes, bone loss, and (more) mood swings.

From a young age, we have historically been taught that period talk is taboo. It’s embarrassing and it’s gross, apparently. It took me, like, 20 years to stop hiding my tampons under my paper towel purchase at the grocery store. (You know you’re guilty of it.) Women are side-eyed if we’re in a bad mood, immediate accusations of hormones being to blame ensue, and rightfully so because this part of being a woman is fucking hard. And guess what? It’s life for each and every female alive.

Let’s get rid of the stigma and the un-sexiness of having reproductive organs that function. We have them. Sometimes they function in a healthy fashion but many times, they don’t. And it sucks. It actually sucks either way. Sure, we’re so fortunate that our bodies are able to do this. The miracle of life and all of that bullshit. Sure, it’s fucking beautiful and all but for many of us, it’s all hard.

It’s easily dismissed when we say we’re dealing with a lot of female issues. I feel like most don’t know how hard it can be, how debilitating these female issues can be. Fibroid tumors, chronic ovarian cysts, severe anemia, years of terrible bleeding and pain. These were all my female issues and my reasons for needing the hysterectomy. I needed my life back, physically and mentally. I was circling the drain, no exaggeration.

And I’m certainly not alone. Thousands of women need hysterectomies every year for issues far more intense than mine, even. Our bodies take a beating and it’s difficult and certainly under appreciated.

Solidarity, sisters. This is some tough shit to navigate.

All of this and in spite, here we are being head of household tasks, raising children, being cruise directors for the family’s social calendar, and many of us are career women.

I mean, shit. This is a lot. We are fucking warriors.

Self care immediately comes to mind when thinking all of this through.

I realized that, yes, all of these physical issues I was having were out of my control, of course, but what really struck me was that I was excited to have a major surgery…so I could rest. Isn’t that crazy? I was actually looking forward to an invasive, life altering surgery so I could actually self care and self preserve a little.

With or without said female issues, knowing the women in my life and what they do on a day-to-day, self care seems to be a far off fantasy for most. Some sort of unicorn. We just don’t do it because we can’t. We do too much, we take on too much, large in part because we have to but also? Because we don’t say no.  This is why we talk about living off of wine and coffee so much. Our lives are fucking crazy. This isn’t an illusion, this isn’t being weak, this isn’t being selfish. Being a woman is taxing, tiresome, and sometimes downright grueling.

So, here’s my plea: women, take some time. Any time. Make a plan. Hire the babysitter. Utilize the aftercare at school. Drink the third glass of wine with your girlfriends. Call in sick because yes, period cramps really fucking hurt. Explore your hobby. Or go bigger and take the trip. Shit, take the trip by yourself. Even sit down and schedule the time you need to be the best version of you. Stop making excuses. You need it, your kids need it, your relationships need it, your body, spirit and mind need it.

Don’t wish for a surgery to get some rest. Live. Don’t burnout.

Carry on, warriors. Back to your regularly scheduled chaos. Much love to you all for fighting the good fight of womanhood. It certainly does take a huge set of balls.

6 Ways You Can Judge Me On My Parenting.

As much as we all like to say we’re not judgmental, let’s all come together to confess right here and now that we all judge one another. It’s a human race thing. I know it thrives in our DNA to rip each other’s morals, values and ethics to shreds and pat ourselves on the back for doing everything perfect. We certainly wouldn’t be doing the things we do if we didn’t think they were the right way.

I have noticed, especially recently as my daughter gets a bit older, I seem to be a bit of an unconventional parent. And I know we all know that we are the best fucking parents ever to have lived! But seriously, parents judge one another so harshly because, let’s face it, it’s the toughest job known to mankind to be a parent. There’s no training manual for it, there’s no salary involved, and we are literally creating human beings, trying to raise them the best we know how without completely fucking them up. So, we become one another’s worst critics on how not to turn these little humans into drug dealers and prostitutes.

Judging one another certainly doesn’t get us anywhere with the whole solidarity thing, but because I know it’s what we do, I offer you some of the ways you can judge me as a parent…

  1. For pulling her out of school often to do fun things: So, there’s this thing called life that passes us by while we’re all working our asses off 50-60 hours a week and if we’re missing out on life, our kids are, too, in some ways. When I was young, my dad worked a gazillion hours a week, however, there was never any shortage of awesome memories. My parents used to take me out of school for about 3 weeks a year for vacations. They were never extravagant, usually just to see family or take a week at a lake, but it was time together. Honestly, it could have been at the hotel down the street for all I cared. It was a change of scenery. Yes, kids needs structure, absolutely, but I’m that parent that plans a quick weekday getaway (in advance so school work can be attended to) just so she can see that on the other side of all of this work, there’s fun. Life is too short. Childhood goes much too fast to not let my daughter see that work is a necessary part of life that allows us to also have fun. And no, I don’t plan on wavering on this as school gets more difficult. As long as she’s pulling decent grades, I’ll probably allow her even more time off.
  1. For not raising her with organized religion: This is a big one and I could probably write an entire chapter on this. Let me start by saying, I recognize that organized religion works for many, many families and I think that’s amazing and wonderful. Faith is an integral component of life. I get that, however, it looks different for all of us. I am agnostic and her father is an atheist. I’m just as firm in my agnostic beliefs as others are in their religion. And that’s ok. I don’t believe I’m going to hell, just as other believe I will. I have respect for others beliefs, just as I will have respect for what my own child believes.
    Religion played a role in my life as a child and I arrived at my own belief system by simply growing up and living, not by what was shoved down my throat. I hope she will do the same, minus having to navigate through what was shoved down her throat. Personally, I have just been privileged to entirely too much hypocrisy within that space, within the church. It certainly doesn’t make sense for me to tell my child what to believe when I don’t own those beliefs myself.
    I do not turn my child away from religion or fail to acknowledge more mainstream, traditional beliefs. She attended a Catholic pre-school and she attends a Methodist summer camp, so she’s deriving a general understanding of Christianity. She has enjoyed learning about the bible, and I’m so glad she’s getting that exposure. However, now that she’s 7, I’m cognizant of incorporating other religions into conversation and I’m beginning to have open discussions about how different people believe different things about God, Jesus, and what religion means to them. Here’s what she knows for now: love and kindness are our religion. That should be the basis of any religion anyway, right?
  1. For not pushing her to play sports: I had her try soccer, gymnastics, tee ball, and flag football…all between the ages of 3-7. The rule was, if I signed her up for the season, she had to finish it but if she didn’t like it, she didn’t have to sign up again. And exactly that has happened with each sport. Listen, I’m not going to ruin my Saturdays and any other practice day during the week so I can push her to do something that’s supposed to be fun, yet hearing her bitch all of the while about how hot and sweaty she is, asking how much longer until it’s over. Not worth it for either of us. I will admit, I wanted her to latch onto a sport, and maybe she still will, but it hasn’t happened yet. If this isn’t the way she expresses herself and isn’t something she enjoys then I’m fine with that. Something will be her thing eventually.
  1. For not limiting her screen time: to my last point, right now her thing is YouTube Minecraft videos and some extremely boring game called Slither.iO or some shit. She likes gaming and she like Legos. Those are her most creative outlets for now. Of course I monitor what she’s watching and I do make sure she’s exercising at least one hour a day but if she wants to sit on her iPad for an hour…or two…or six- no problem. This also allows me some time to do a load of laundry or clean the house a bit. It’s a sanity saver a lot of the time and to be honest, she tends to self regulate her usage. She’s never sat on a device for an absurd amount of time. Like anything, she gets bored and moves onto the next thing within an appropriate amount of time. I might know way too much about Dan TDM and RoBlox but hey, it could be much worse and she could still be watching Stampy Longnose.
  1. For not doing more than the recommended reading homework: School has become a bit of a different beast than what it was when I was young and I’ll just say it: I think it’s bullshit how our children are being pushed beyond what I consider normal limits. The tests, the homework, the Common Core shit that very few of us as parents can understand…it’s too much. The work she was completing at the end of 1st grade was that of a 3rd grader in my day. What was wrong with the way we did it? Yes, I’m sounding old, but seriously, what’s with the intensity these days? Why not play more, homework less? All of this pushing and testing cannot even be proven effective by research so why should I push her beyond her limits? I love when she reads and wants to read. I certainly encourage it but if 20 minutes is her limit, fine. We are done and we are going for a bike ride.
  1. For allowing her to be her own person:  No.Matter.What. My daughter doesn’t conform to gender norms. Never did and probably never will. She has been wearing boy clothes since she was 3 ½ years old, has only ever played with boys toys, likes being called a boy and gravitates towards boys as friends. And guess what? I don’t care. And neither should anyone else. I find it odd when people immediately proclaim her a tomboy or ask what I’ve done to “make her this way”. Y’all, she’s just who she is. I’m not making her any way. It’s not my choice to individualize her or choose her identity. Even if this wasn’t what makes her different, I’m open-minded to her just being her no matter what that looks like. I don’t need a label for her. She doesn’t need a label. She is just her.

I’m sure there’s more to judge about my parenting, like feeding my kid so much processed food that she will have a shelf life of hundreds of years, or that I tend to cuss around her quite a bit so the word “shit” doesn’t even remotely make her wide-eyed anymore. But, the thing is, we are all in this with the same end goal: raising humans we can be proud of. So, if my daughter ends up to be a devil worshiping, illiterate, deviant who doesn’t know how to be part of a team, I will be one proud mama. Ok, so not really, but I would have sure as hell tried my hardest to do what I felt was best for her.

Parenting is all about throwing shit against the wall to see what sticks. None of us have any concrete answers and there is no true right or wrong. Here’s to hoping the right components of what I’m throwing against the wall sticks.

And I’ll accept your judgment if you’ll accept mine. Solidarity in parenting, friends.

My Secret Celebration On My Daughter’s Birthday

Ever since I became a mom 7 years ago, when my daughter’s birthday rolls around every May, I celebrate. It’s a given that I celebrate her, with her, for her. But I also secretly celebrate me and the trials and tribulations of motherhood. Every mom’s journey is so beautiful and unique in their own right and I just can’t help but feel that a child’s birthday is really about the mom. I mean, childbirth is no joke and motherhood is even more difficult so why not take some time to mentally celebrate these triumphs?

On the eve of her birthday every year, around 7pm, I reminisce about where I was in the birthing process.  I had to be induced due to medical issues so I take myself through the process. The anxiety of being admitted to the hospital, the pitocin, the failed epidural, watching HGTV to try to pass the {painful} time, watching her dad sleep and remember wanting to stab him. I think about the demeanor of the room, the preparation, the nurses, the doctor arriving, the look on my mom’s face when my daughter arrived. My first words of, “what do I do with you now, little one?”, as she wailed in my arms. Just…everything.

Every year, as the hours of her birthday pass, I just remember. I remember when she was a baby, depending on me for everything. I remember how hard it was for me in those early months and the frustration I felt. I remember the laughter of the toddler phase and all the blunders I’ve made as a mom. I secretly pat myself on the back for making it through another year with a child that I am beyond proud of. I’ve kept her alive, happy, and healthy so I must be doing something right.

This morning, on her 7th birthday, I woke up at 4:43am, two minutes before I actually had her in 2009. I was so thankful that I woke up at this ugly hour of the morning to really reflect all by myself. To celebrate motherhood for a few quiet minutes, all by myself.  I laid there thinking about the past seven years and what they’ve looked like, how they’ve evolved, how I’ve grown as a mom. I thought of everything she’s been through in her young life and I wonder if I’ve always done the right thing for her in tough situations.

I know that moms have their own holiday of Mother’s Day, but that’s not the day I choose to celebrate my accomplishments as a mom. I choose to celebrate my own mom on that day for all she’s done for me. Now that I’m a mom, I feel like my mom should actually be crowned queen but I digress.

It should go without saying that I do stay in the moment and never lose sight that it’s her day and that she’s to be celebrated but I love my own, separate celebration is happening in my mind, too. As moms, we’re always told to take a backseat, to give up everything for our kids, to never be first in our own lives…and we do all of these things and we do it graciously for these amazing creatures that we birthed. That’s what being a mom is all about but I simultaneously choose to acknowledge myself and what it takes to be that person to sacrifice everything. I celebrate it. On her day. In my own mind. Call me selfish. I’m ok with that.

Happy mom anniversary to me. I’m rocking this shit so far.

When Motherhood Doesn’t Come Easy

I felt somewhat compelled to write a follow up post to my Only Child Piece. In it, I mention that motherhood was an intense experience for me from the very beginning, which is why I knew I would only have one child. And by using the word intense, what I really meant was…I was not a fan of motherhood.  

When learning about new motherhood from friends, prior to having my daughter, they would consistently tell me how difficult it is but always follow it up with statements like, “But it’s totally worth it!!”, or “It’s the best job I’ve ever had!!!”, or some puppies and rainbows bullshit. And I do believe that most truly felt that way.

I, on the other hand, did not.

My daughter came into this world at 38 weeks. I was induced due to severe preeclampsia. The labor was somewhat uneventful, besides my epidural failing, (which was more traumatic to me than my high blood pressure). My first words as she laid on my chest were, “What do I do with you now, little one?”. I immediately felt unprepared.

I didn’t see my daughter for approximately another nine hours after labor because of my complications. I don’t remember really missing her during this time. I just felt…weird. Alone. And drugged. Something felt like it was missing but I didn’t ache for my newborn. When the nurse finally brought her to me to try to breastfeed, I sobbed but I wasn’t sure why. Was I happy to see her? Nervous? Overwhelmed? I’m still not sure of my exact emotions.

The next couple of days, I seemed to be soaking this all in but, as much as I felt love, I had this equal amount of confusion. I truly didn’t know what to do with her. I certainly didn’t instantly bond.

The first week was relatively easy. She slept, ate, pooped. Rinse, lather, repeat. Breastfeeding proved impossible because, well, my milk never showed up, despite my best efforts, so at six days old, she was formula fed, which worked out fine for us. I was getting a fair amount of sleep because my husband would help with the night feedings. I wasn’t afraid to take her out into public. We were at Target on day two. It was all feeling like a major adjustment but I was not feeling extremely overwhelmed.

Into the second, third and every other newborn week, shit started to get real.

The sleeping was less, crying was more, colic and silent reflux became a part of our world, and it occurred to me that this was not feeling “worth it” to me yet. She cried so much after feedings, which were every 2-3 hours, so I didn’t plan much for us during the days. She was never napping more than 30 minutes during the day and the night sleep was sporadic. I was exhausted and confused and overwhelmed. At times, I wondered why I chose this. I wondered why anyone chose this. When people would say “enjoy every moment!”, I wanted to punch them in the face. Seriously.

I will interject here, I was not depressed. I was not wishing my child away, I was not imaging horrible things in my mind in episodes of psychosis, I wasn’t crying a lot, I wasn’t extremely anxious. I just didn’t like this new normal. I loved her, I just didn’t like this. I didn’t like not being able to have a schedule, I didn’t like not knowing her sleep or eat patterns, I didn’t like not being able to control her crying or being able to help her in those moments. I didn’t like all of the unknowns and every bit of it all was out of my control. This newborn phase was so demanding and there wasn’t much I was receiving in return. No, I wasn’t loving motherhood at all.

If I’m being completely honest, I was feeling inconvenienced and frustrated at times. I just wanted some normalcy. I wanted to just get in my car without a screaming child and a diaper bag full of shit just to go to the grocery store for five things. I wanted to go to the beach without having to take a pack n play, a tent, toys, diapers, etc., only to have to leave within 30 minutes because she wouldn’t.stop.screaming.

I was literally mourning my old, carefree life. I was mourning a life without this type of responsibility.

Most of you will be shocked or appalled reading those last statements but I’m talking to those that can identify. I’m telling you my experience because when I was in the thick of this, I just wanted someone to tell me that they felt like this too. I wanted someone to tell me this was ok and this was normal and that this was going to get better. Everyone else seemed to be in this blissful state of baby-wearing motherhood while I was counting down the days to go back to work just to feel human again. I felt like a complete asshole for feeling this way. Where were all of these puppies and rainbows that my mom friends were speaking of?

As I got to know my daughter, things began to make sense. Around six months in, I was starting to really get to know her. The smiling, the giggling, the sitting up, the crawling, the walking, the first words, the cute nuances. I was starting to get it. Finally. I was starting to piece together that although most women were meant to become mothers and nurturing a child was an engrained part of their DNA, some of us had to work at this. Some of us are not natural nurturers. Call it selfish, call it odd, but it’s true. Motherhood is not a natural role for all of us.

As we hit the toddler years, I was more confident. I gave up on figuring out pretty much anything and everything. The level of frustration continued at certain times, such as with tantrums, having constant viruses in the house, being sleep deprived (still), never being able to sit down, and swearing off going into any restaurant, but…I was starting to really love it. I was truly embracing getting to know this child. I was embracing the “mamas” and the “hold yous” and the “uh ohs”. I was becoming so enamored with her that I felt like I finally arrived as a mom.

Now, with my daughter being at the age of almost 7, I do love motherhood. {Most days.} This type of love defines me now. Motherhood defines me. This is what I became a mother for, these years, right now. I love this level of understanding and interaction. I love the ease of this age. This is truly arriving in my love of motherhood. Not only does motherhood make sense now but my daughter makes my whole life make sense.

So, to the mamas in the trenches of the newborn phase that maybe don’t want to admit out loud that you’re not loving it: it’s ok. You’re ok. Your baby is ok. It will get so much better. It will all make sense soon.You’re right where you need to be and you’re not alone.

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