Sisters

First I have to say I apologize if my posts are few and far between for the next couple months. I’m a CPA in the middle of tax season, so I’m busy to say the least. With that said, I am so happy that I have a couple of followers, I truly didn’t know if anyone would enjoy my blog, but like I’ve said before I can only hope that like me, other parents like to know they are not alone! Now, onward….

I am an only child, which might explain my anxiety level when around loud, chaotic situations (hmmm, like family life on a daily basis) – I’m working on that, by the way, the anxiety. I don’t know much about handling sibling disputes or about the emotions that come with not always being the center of attention. That might say a lot about me, but I like to think I’m not a spoiled brat because of my only-child-ness. My husband has stories of times when he talked his little brother into doing whatever naughty thing they were plotting. He has the best stories about their plans to play quietly in the late evening so no one would notice it was past bed time – that is until one took the legos that the other was playing with and someone yelled. I have no experience with this. However, now I have these two girls and I’m trying to learn to play referee and split my time; deal with the guilt that comes along with days when I give one more attention than the other, and teach them about loving each other despite hating each other at times.

I do know one thing about siblings though – I always wanted one. I try to tell my girls (well, my 4-year-old, the 15 month old doesn’t quite understand) how lucky they are to have each other. I make K promise that she will always take care of her little sister and love her. I feel blessed because she has always been a very sweet big sister. Seeing the two of them sitting on the couch together in the morning, snuggling, makes my heart melt. The adoration that J has for her big sister is something I’ve never witnessed before. She watches, so intently, everything she does; she asks about her when I go into her room if she’s awake in the middle of the night -“Kiki?” she says as she points out the door of her room. I still, to this day, wish I had this. I wish I had someone who understood the complexities of my family, someone to love my kids as much as I do, someone to get away with once in a while and just reminisce about childhood, someone to help me take care of my parents as they get older. Maybe this perspective of mine will help me to teach my kids how wonderful it is to have siblings, despite what I don’t know about having one.

I pray that my girls will grow up to be best friends; that they will love and appreciate each other, that they will take care of each other and each other’s children. I know sometimes it doesn’t work out this way with siblings, but I can’t even think about that as a possibility – it would break my heart. For now, I’ll just keep hammering in that they are so very lucky to be sisters!

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Larger than Life

Family Portrait – Kiki 4 yrs old

This is a picture my four-year-old handed me when I picked her up from school a couple of weeks ago. She explained that Daddy is the one on the left, Mommy is in the middle, then Jenna (who looks like some sort of little creature) and finally her, but “oops, I forgot to put arms and legs on myself!”

I cannot say how much I LOVE this family portrait! She is so detail-oriented; it helped me to see things through her eyes. First, the heights are so accurate! The baby’s legs really do look “cowboyesque” with her big diaper making her walk funny, and I WAS wearing a purple dress that day – I didn’t even know that she noticed.
The most striking thing of all is how very big I am in this picture and how my very long arms are reaching across the whole family. The fact that she sees me as the mom who has her arms around everyone just makes me cry a little, ok, a lot! It is so easy to forget that we are larger than life in the eyes of our little ones. I will keep this in mind when I’m on the verge of losing my temper with her or when she’s calling my name in the middle of the night and I just want to sleep –  I am the center of the family portrait, I am so big in her mind and she needs me to play that role. It’s a hard role to play sometimes; the responsibility to live up to that picture is overwhelming at times. But, oh how that perfect display of what is in her little mind about our family makes me want to try my very best at all moments! What incredible girl, I love her so very much!
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Beware of the Baby Group!

As a new mom, one of the most detrimental things one can do is going to a “baby group”. Sure, they seem like a great way to meet other moms, get support, make friends, but don’t be fooled, these are evil places that will just make you feel horrible about yourself.

Ok, I’m not totally serious. My first “baby group” experience was when my first daughter was about 3 weeks old. It was at a local hospital and I went with a friend who had also just had a baby. It was horrible! First of all, outings with your first brand new baby are terrifying – I think I pulled the car over 4 times during the 20 minute drive to check if she was still breathing (yes, these are the crazy thoughts that go through a new mom’s mind). Next, when I arrived I was immediately self-conscious about my post-pregnancy body (didn’t help to have a teeny, tiny friend who gained 10 pounds during her pregnancy – albeit she threw up the whole time and probably would’ve traded that for my50 pounds any day). I was self-conscious about my huge boobs, which with a 3-week-old who nurses every 3 minutes I was having to whip them out several times during the group.

The moms sat around and nursed their babies, which as a first-time mom is totally awkward to do anywhere but situated in your favorite chair with your boob positioned just right so it doesn’t feel like a mouse trap has sprung on your nipple and is pulling it off of your body. Nursing in a metal chair with 10 other moms seemingly staring is not easy. After two babies however (nursing one until 3 months before the second was born), I now nurse while cooking, cleaning, and putting my contacts in – yes it’s possible people!

Anyway, next at the baby group I would hear about how all of the other babies were sleeping several hours at a time, nursing only every 3 hours, and how the moms were busy being domestic goddesses who cooked and had time to read books. Meanwhile, I was feeling like I could barely make it out of my sweats and get my teeth brushed, this child wanted to nurse 24-7 and would only sleep in my lap (all night long in a recliner that I slept in for 2 months.) What was wrong with me?!? What was wrong with my baby?!? As my mom would say – “they lie”. Whether they lie or not, I’m not sure, but I am sure that those moms were probably really feeling exactly like I was – analyzing every move as a parent, trying to figure out this little person, trying to adjust to our drastically different lives, trying to find a way to survive on 3 hours of sleep and a flood of hormones, all while trying failing to maintain the wonderful control I had over my life pre-baby (hahahaha, what the heck is control?!?!)

Well, the point of my story was to say this – friends are great, but everyone, no matter how good of friends you are, as a new mom is trying to maintain a picture of “holding it all together”. This is probably not so much for others as it is for ourselves. After months, years, of getting together with the same moms, we have all let our barriers down and realize that we all struggle, every single day in this crazy life. We know less now than we did with tiny infants, we want to pull our hair out some most days and we often find ourselves in tears over our most challenging role, as parents. And, oh, how I am so thankful to have those friends. They make me feel normal, they remind me that I’m not alone, they laugh with me and cry with me and we all know that everyone goes through the same things. We give each other advice and we admit that we really have no answers! We don’t know how to get an infant to sleep through the night, we don’t know how to handle preschool tantrums, we don’t have time most days to eat or workout or put makeup on and our marriages sometimes get put on the back burner because we are so exhausted. Yes, this is reality and it feels so good to just be real, to stop trying to pretend that we can hold it all together at all times and to just fall apart….together.
So, my friends, approach baby groups carefully. Go into them knowing that no one has the answers, don’t compare yourself to anyone, take advice lightly and you just may emerge with one of the best gifts of all – real, true friends.

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Operation: Put Down the Darn Phone

It’s funny how if you pay attention to the little events of every day life, the “coincidences”, you realize, at least in my opinion, that certain seemingly random things pop up at certain times for certain reasons. I came across this blog recently, simply from clicking on another blog on the WordPress home page. It is so applicable to my life at the current moment and it pushed me to start making some very necessary changes.

http://www.handsfreemama.com/?page_id=30

Lately I feel burned out. Life is nonstop. By the time my kids are asleep and my responsibilities are taken care of, (kitchen cleaned, laundry done, lunches made for the next day, dinner organized for the next night, maybe a quick workout if I’m lucky  – and these are things I do not because of my type A personality, but because it’s necessary for survival and to prevent complete chaos) I have maybe half an hour before I crash only to get up 6 or 7 hours later when the kids wake up. It’s busy and exhausting and never stops.

I didn’t start to feel this exhausted until my youngest was near a year old. I was tired when I had only one young child, but I didn’t feel exhausted to the core. Obviously having two children will have this effect, but more so than that, I feel overwhelmed with the responsibility that comes with raising a toddler turned preschooler; a child that is quickly turning into a whole person – not a baby anymore. Teaching my four year old the right things, being a good role model, loving her and diciplining her in the right way at this point in her life has everything to do with who she will be in 10 year, 20 years, 50 years – at least that’s what my fears are – am I doing this job well enough?!?

I love my girls so much. I love being with them, they are the most amazing little people who make me laugh and cry. I feel blessed beyond belief to be their mother. (I always feel the need to add this, for fear of being judged that I’m complaining and not seeing how much I have in this life. I think this judgement will come more from those without children than those with – those with children will understand.) But in feeling burned out, I’ve noticed that I tend to find ways to escape more often. My mind needs a rest from feeling the pressure to be a prefect mom, a good wife. I don’t want to get away from my kids, I just need a break. And as much as I don’t want to see it, I have realized that my iPhone is my way of checking out, my way of getting a break, resting my mind, escaping the reality that I have this nonstop life. This is not an uncommon past time – social media, pinterest, texting – all of the mothers I know have similar escapes – just read some other mom blogs. I know it’s not healthy and what weighs on me the most is that my daughters see it. They think these electronic devices are somehow important in life because I show them that.

It is a hard habit to break, putting down the phone. I try, but I will try harder. I don’t want my girls to have memories of their mom on the phone all of the time, which, by the way, texting is the only way to communicate when you have 2 young kids because there is something about talking on the phone that triggers extremely loud whining making it impossible to talk. Nonetheless, it’s not necessary to text friends during the day. I will catch up and respond at night when the girls are in bed. I have deleted Facebook, Pinterest and gossip website apps off of my phone so there is no temptation. I will check email at 2 or 3 specified times during the day (this is necessary for my job). I will not talk while driving, headset or not (a habit my husband has been trying to get me to break for a long time). I will not look at email or text at stop lights. I will try to be more present with my kids, even on those tiring days at home. Upon exhaustion setting in and my brain starting to wander I will take them outside for a walk or turn on reggae and have a dance party. I am not perfect, I will slip, but I will find inspiration in blogs like the one above, where I can get  support from other moms who are in the same place as I am.

So, if you plan on texting me….don’t expect a response any time soon (unless I’m at the office, then I will gladly text you back, my computer doesn’t care).🙂

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Carpe Diem? Or just survive it?

Until I get around to finishing my next post, I thought I’d share something a friend sent to me the other day. My friend and I had just been talking about how we are frequently told by older people to enjoy every minute of having young children because it goes by so fast. We agreed that most days we operate in survival mode just trying to get through the day, much less savor every sweet and bitter moment of it – and the guilt that comes along with thinking that maybe some day we’ll look back and wish we had “loved every minute of it”. She found this and sent it to me because it so closely related to our conversation. I love this! I truly believe that EVERY mom will, at some point in her life, completely understand how the author feels. And it’s hilarious! So, enjoy!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glennon-melton/dont-carpe-diem_b_1206346.html

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And The Winner Is…. Not Me!!

Tonight we had the tantrum to end all tantrums! I ended the hour-long bed time battle in tears, feeling defeated, hopeless in my abilities as a mom with my heart hurting. Let me preface this by saying all of my posts won’t be about how difficult parenting is and how exhausting it can be but it has been a rough few months for us for whatever reason. Not sure if it’s the specific age of each kid or the combination of ages at this very moment, but I can honestly say that I have been more stressed recently than I can ever remember. I don’t doubt that things will smooth out soon; parenting, like all of life, is a roller coaster and I’ve learned that as soon as you think you can’t handle another day at the current pace, things settle down. Unfortunately it works in the opposite direction too; just when you think you’ve got it all figured out and you’re feeling like a pro, you can be sure you’ll be thrown a curve ball at any moment.

So, K was overly tired and every single suggestion or bed time requirement resulted in a display of screaming, kicking, body flailing chaos! The unreasonableness of an upset little person’s brain became most apparent when she turned from saying she didn’t want to go to bed to crying because she didn’t like the “strings on my sweatshirt” (the hood drawstrings) and screaming “I don’t want you to have that shirt anymore!” Really at that point I knew we were doomed for the evening – that’s the point where they are so exhausted there is just no turning back.

 
My husband and I tend to disagree on technique occasionally and our inconsistency and noticeable disgust for each others methods (all of which were being attempted in this situation) cannot add any value to an event like tonight’s. This is what I mean when I talk about patenting changing relationships. I doubt anyone discusses, prior to getting married, how they will handle an out of control 4 year-old, and even if they think they are on the same discipline page before kids, well, like they say, “a baby changes everything”.
In the end, after exhausting every trick in the book, I decided it would be best to just get the child to sleep. So she won, on every front, got every request granted, all of her books read to her, and fell asleep the victor of the battle! But what the heck, at least she’s asleep. I’m not sure any different approach would’ve worked tonight, it seemed destined to end the way it did. I retreated from the battle feeling like a failure. All of my “it’s about the right outcome” BS didn’t do Sh*t! Like I’ve said before, I feel like I’m well on my way to knowing nothing about being a parent. But as always, I love her; that spunky, feisty, so beautiful even when screaming, little girl; and I pray that is enough!

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My version of Sex Ed class

Today I took J, my 14 month old to a local high school at the request of a friend’s daughter who had to do a presentation in her child development class. I sat at the front of the class with her on my lap while our friend talked about some of the developmental milestones of a 14 month old. I don’t know who was more intimidated to have 15 high school freshman and sophomores staring at us – me or sweet little J (or the girl making the presentation, who was very nervous)! When she was done with her presentation, the teacher asked me several questions about J, about my life as a parent, and even about my labor with both girls! It’s amazing how the process of becoming a mother makes one comfortable talking openly about a not so glamorous event resulting in a human being emerging from your hoo-ha (sorry, couldn’t think of a better word).

Anyway, during all of this I found myself thinking about one thing – how can I get across to these hormone raging teenagers that having a baby, a sweet and cute little baby to cuddle and play with, is NOT something that is cool to do any time soon! I know that some young girls have this fantasy that having a baby will make them happy, complete them, be all fun and love, and thanks to MTV’s Teen Mom (which I REFUSE to watch and support in any way) get them attention! Oh, how I wish they could spend a day with me. One of those days that I never got my teeth brushed, my children ate nothing but cheerios all day, there are dirty diapers spread across the whole house, and I am crying by bedtime because I’m stretched so thin, so tired, feeling like a failure because I yelled at my 4-year-old on multiple occasions. The funny thing about babies is that they grow into toddlers before you can say “toddler”. I always tell people that the first year of a child’s life is the easy part. I can handle sleepless nights and poopy diapers and teething. It’s when they start to become little people with their own opinion about how the world works that you suddenly realize that your role has changed from keeping them warm and fed to raising a whole and happy individual. The HUGE responsibility of parenting sets in and seems almost daunting at times. Your cute little baby will be 3 before you know it and you must think about instilling self-confidence, teaching morals, praying about all of the things you hope they don’t do as teenagers (among a thousand other things).

Parenting is so hard. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. Maybe the desire to be an excellent parent makes the stress more intense, because we are all so far from perfect in all realms of life and parenting is no exception. Having children not only taxes us as parents individually but it affects marriages and relationships too. The strongest of relationships are challenged when raising children – and I’m not talking babies, like I said before – easy part! You never think your relationship will change when you have kids – it always does, in one way or another.

Would I do it differently, of course not! I love my girls. Most of the time I love being a mom (I will do a post on that subject later). But my heart hurts for teenagers and young women who feel that a baby will make them feel complete and happy. One must be complete and happy to make a good parent. Having a baby is not about YOU it is about creating and raising a healthy person into an adult and setting them out into the world. I am 31, I’ve lived a lot, had a lot of fun and freedom, done a lot of work on myself, grown up (mostly after 24) and I still feel like I’m not qualified for this job.

So there’s my rant!🙂

In the end, none of the high school kids seemed super interested in the presentation and I just hope that my repetition of  “it’s exhausting” got across to any of them who want to be future Teen Mom stars!

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