Category Archives: Motherhood

spfsept15

Thoughtful Thursday: Who is your clan?

As our family continues to move through this season of flux, something occurred to me…if we move across the country, I am losing my clan.  My call text-at-the-spur-of-the-moment crew.  My people who I can reach out to with no notice, and they show up for me.  As I would show up for them.

I have two aunts who live on our end of the metro area who are pretty reliable if they are in town.  I have a whole crew of dance moms at the dance studio who help keep an eye on the kids if we have errands to run instead of sitting at the studio to wait for our kiddos. There are a few former birth students we are privileged to call friends.  I haven’t had to call on them yet; I imagine if we did, they would help us out.

Then there are my birth people. These incredible (mostly) women who I can call or text when I have questions about anything. Whether it’s an answer I need for class or a situation I’m seeing at a birth, they are there and they answer back almost immediately.  A lot of the time it’s a crazy-time of day text to clarify a finer point of breastfeeding or hospital care to make sure that my words are informative without crossing the line of giving advice that I am not licensed to give.

Connections of family, common geography, or common interest that we take for granted…it literally just hit me that we would have to start all over in a new city if we move. We do not have the amount of family there that we do here, they are not close to where we would live, we would literally be strangers to everyone.

I had to go back and think about how we built our clan of support here in this area.  Family is built in – which is such a lovely way to live – hurrah for family.

As for the rest, the dance studio moms we have known for upwards of eight years since our Puma started dancing, and slowly as the other get involved and we figure out which families are sticking around, we get to know them as well.  Thanks to social media and texting, we are in touch with those that we can trade “let me know if my child needs anything” help with when we need to run an errand.

Aside from the community we have formed through teaching, the library was another place we found families that would go on to become friends.  I guess we’ll be going to the library a lot if we move.

As I put my thinking cap on to think of other ways to build a new clan if we move: I will have to seek out the local La Leche League meeting, see if there are any doula groups that meet-up on a regular basis, and see if anyone is hosting birth circles or birth story sharing groups.

The thought of starting over as a childbirth educator is a little daunting.  We know several midwives in the area now, and we have a good working relationship with a couple obstetric practices, and we know lots of good providers for all the things that are not in our scope as childbirth educators.

And now for true confession time:
As nervous as it made me, I loved performing on stage.  I could put on make up, put on my costume, and assume a persona. I knew no one else out there knew my routine and that they would admire me as a performer.  Once the music started, I knew my routine and I just went out there and enjoyed the moment.

Meeting new people in a new group does not involve music. It does not involve stage makeup or costumes or performing. It requires me to take a risk and put my true self out in front of others – and we all just want to be loved. It makes me vulnerable in a way that brings out my inner eight-year-old: “what if they don’t like me?”

So today’s realization is that I need to start getting used to the idea of meeting new people and starting over just in case we are really moving across the country. I think that the purpose of finding our new clan will be a good motivation to do some mindful meditation and build up my self-esteem: I am loved, I am lovable, and I radiate love.  Maybe a little crazy.

BUT worth it – because if we move, our children are going to be in the same boat. I need to be able to be a good example for them so that they can go out there with confidence…as they say, I need to” fake it until you make it” so that I set a good example. I will have to be honest and tell them that I am nervous…I don’t want to be fake to the point of creating an expectation that our children find unrealistic.

So here I go, boldly forward with a new focus for meditation. Whether we move or not, bathing my mind with loving intentions will ultimately benefit the four little people I love the most. And that is always worth it.

 

spfextendedbf

Monday Musings: On extended breastfeeding

Recently I was asked, “What would you have said if someone had told you  that you would be nursing well beyond the first birthday when you had started your breastfeeding journey?”

My answer:
I would have told them they were on the crazy train…that I was never going to nurse beyond the first birthday. My plan was to meet the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of exclusively breastfeeding for six months, and then breastfeed our child until their first birthday.  It was going to be one and done in all senses of the phrase: one child for one year, and then I was going to be going back into my career and dancing.

God had other plans for me…he must have laughed as he was growing me.

As it turns out, as Puma was approaching her first birthday, I told Daddy Bruss that I didn’t think we were close to being done with breastfeeding.  She still felt so small, and nursing a soon-to-be toddler wasn’t weird, as I had imagined it might be.

She went on to nurse for 22 months all together. There was a time when I got pregnant  when she was 18 months old.  At that point she started to decline breastfeeding. When I miscarried, she was back to the breast as she had been before the pregnancy.

She weaned herself at 22 months…about two weeks after she weaned, she asked to nurse again.  We tried, but it seemed the milk was all gone.

We went on get pregnant again (how could I say no to my amazing husband who has provided me my dream life?!!), and we welcomed Night Owl to the family.  He got to nurse for about 18 months.  When I got pregnant with Charger sooner than we had planned on being pregnant again, I started having contractions when I was nursing. Out of fear of miscarrying again, we made the choice to do an “emergency wean” and over the course of a week that breastfeeding journey came to an end.

Charger had different plans when I got pregnant with Otter, as we expected, around the time he was 18 months old.  I tried to wean him, because I was having contractions again every time I nursed.  He flat out refused.  I sought help from our IBCLC, Debbie Gillespie, and my La Leche leaders…they had lots of suggestions, none of which worked for us.  I decided to go with prayer and lots of self-talk.  For whatever reason, he was not ready to stop breastfeeding, I knew of other moms who had breastfed through pregnancy so I knew it was possible. I told my body every time I nursed that the oxytocin that was being created was just for milk and not for labor.

Eventually the contractions subsided.  I watched Charger’s bowel movements turn back to baby poops as my colostrum came in the last month of Otter’s pregnancy. He even told me the milk tasted saltier than usual. But he was not ready to stop nursing.  By the end of the pregnancy I could only nurse him for a few minutes at a time, once in the morning, once in the evening, and it always had to be in side-lying position.

We welcomed Otter to the family when Charger was two years and two months old.  He was thrilled to have creamy milk again – he LOVED it. It totally helped to have a nursling with a good appetite and more stomach capacity to ease engorgement. We set some guidelines down – Otter first, him second. We started offering other alternatives to comforting instead of going back to nursing now that he was enjoying milk again.

His third birthday came and went…still nursing.  When Otter went on an 11-day nursing strike around her first birthday (he was 3.5 then), I was so grateful to have a nursling to keep my body informed that I still needed milk.  As the two nurslings got older, they had fun with nursing.  Every once in a while they would nurse together.  They definitely had ideas about which “side” was theirs and got upset if the other would start nursing on their side first. Mostly, they enjoyed the camaraderie of having something in common, and would call out to each other when it was the other’s turn with mommy.

Charger went on to nurse through his fifth birthday.  Around that time, we did wean him. I really felt that at five years old, he could give it up.

To this day, he still tells me at least three times a week that he wishes he was still nursing.  When I ask him why, he says because the milk was warm.

Otter is turning five years old in October. I don’t know what we are going to do when we hit her fifth birthday. Since weaning Charger, I have learned that mammals nurse their young until they lose their milk teeth.  In the case of humans, that is the loss of what we call “baby teeth”.  Which does mean that all our children weaned too soon – and that we do as a country. None of our children had lost a tooth before they weaned. I really don’t know of anyone except our first Bradley Method teacher who was nursing a seven-year-old when we met her.

For anyone who is reading about extended breastfeeding for the first time, let me assure you that it is not the same as nursing a newborn, or even a toddler.  She only nurses in the morning or in the evening.  Sometimes once a day, sometimes twice a day, sometimes not at all.  Nursing is still her safe place, our place of connection.  Every once in a while, when she is inconsolably upset, she will ask to nurse and we will connect during the course of the day.  I can’t express milk anymore, but I see it and hear it as she nurses.

I can only go back to what I know. Breastfeeding is a dance between the mother and the nursling.  The lead and the follow changes, and as long as both partners are willing, the dance can continue.  Charger definitely has memory about breastfeeding, so I know Otter will, too.  I want those memories to be peaceful for her, not ones of regret. So we will continue, dancing as long as it works for both of us.  I try to treasure each nursing session, never knowing which is going to be our last.

That day is coming, and my season as a breastfeeding mother will come to an end.  I hold on to the promise that a new season awaits, one in which my accumulated knowledge will still be able to serve and encourage other breastfeeding families although I am not an active participant any more.

 

SPFAug15

Monday Musings: Wouldn’t have you any other way

I have struggled a bit this summer as a “single mom”. No cause for alarm, I am not really a single mom – I couldn’t hack it.  I have so much respect for single parents who truly Do It All.  For us, it’s just the circumstances we are in this season as Daddy Bruss is starting to travel more with the work he is doing.

I am trying to have a conversation every morning with our kiddos.  It goes like this:  I share what is on my list of things to do, I tell them how I expect the day is going to go. Then I ask them: what is it that you wanted to do today…and can we please be nice to each other and keep Crazy Mommy in her box???

So many deep breaths…it helps so much to be mindful.  Saying out loud, “I am taking deep breaths because I do not want to yell.” Peaceful Mama does manage to stick around most days. And if Crazy Mama does come out to play yell, I promptly apologize and we start over.

Somehow, I have turned into the person they ignore.  Daddy Bruss noticed it – I am not quite sure what to do about that piece yet.  One thing I am going to start doing is a morning mindfulness practice, inspired by THIS news story.  One thing to love about this internet age…so many awesome meditations are available for free on the web.

Something that stopped me in my tracks recently is that the lyrics to a Mindy Gledhill song, called Anchor, *really* resonate with Otter. She has only heard the song a handful of times, and she can already sing the words along with the music. This particular stanza stopped my heart…

“There are those who think that I’m strange
They would box me up, and tell me to change
But you hold me close and softly say
That you wouldn’t have me any other way”

Read more: Mindy Gledhill – Anchor Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Seriously…when a four-year old can sing this…oh my heart.  I am totally committed to being that Peaceful Mama. I want to be that person that they know is holding them just the way they are…not asking them to change anything for me…just meeting them where they are and loving them unconditionally.  It is also my reminder that all my children need me to snuggle them in and tell them that they are treasured.

On a related note, I have always loved the line in the Olivia book, by Ian Falconer, where the mother says to Olivia, “You know, you really wear me out. But I love you anyway.” See a version of the book HERE

That is me right now in this season. I am worn out.  Yet I know that I am doing the best job in the world, nurturing and loving and growing the next generation.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am so grateful for my village of amazing mamas and grandmas that inspire me and give me the courage to do my best every single day. Without them, I would be sinking through this season.  Thanks to them, I know I can do this.

I am also thankful for the Living God that we serve. I know that with His help, I do have the peace that surpasses all understanding right here, to be accessed as soon as I can be still. It is an awesome peace that reassures me that I really am not alone and that I am striving for a higher purpose.

I can do this.

P.S. Even though I am more worn out than ususal this season, Life Must Go On!! HERE is the time management tool I use to determine what I really need to do every day…I still want to keep up with our blogs, the kiddos have places to go, we have a new birthing class starting at the end of the month, and I have a couple of projects in the work…all are worthy and I want to be present for my children and the commitments I have made.  

SPFMay16

Gratitude through this Season of Change

I first started sharing about this interesting season of change back in May.  I have a feeling that someday, we will look back on this year as a milestone marker.

We will say things like:

“Remember when we sold the Chandler house in two weeks?”

“Remember when Puma went to Europe with Grandma, Grandpa, and Tia Gloria?”

“Remember when we spent the whole day on Father’s Day moving the big stuff from the Dobson house?”

“Remember that day (week, actually) that Tia Gloria and Tia Carmen came over and motivated us to get packing?”

“Remember the day we hosted the going away party even though we still had a pile of boxes in the garage?”

“Remember the time when we got up at 5:00 am to go play in the park?”

“Remember my first breakfast out on the balcony?”

“Remember the fun party lights we put up under the tiny patio?”

“Remember when Puma got her back handspring? (and maybe even her back tuck!)”

“Remember when Night Owl got his aerial?”

“Remember when Charger got his back handspring?”

“Remember when Otter needed band-aids almost every day?”

There are other things that have made this a milestone year…events that were much harder to grasp and accept for all of us at different levels.

Five funerals from April – June this year. Selling what we thought was our forever home. Moving into a smaller home in a different neighborhood. A job change for my husband. Spending the month of July away from Daddy Bruss, it’s been just the Sweet Pea Kids and I for most of the month.

We downsized 1500 square feet…that is the size of a whole house for some people…two whole houses in other parts of the world…that alone makes me grateful.  We could do it…and we did.

My mantra, the filter I worked with that motivated me: Do I want to pay to move “this” across the country?…Because, if we find that our family doesn’t like having Daddy Bruss commute, then we will probably be moving to the East Coast next year.

It made me get rid of all the clutter – literal junk – that I was hanging onto…for whatever reason…old catalogs, old letters and cards, old notebooks full of notes I haven’t looked at in years, TONS of shredding that just needed to be done, broken things that I was going to fix “some day”.

Then we had a day when we had friends come over and go through all the baby and toddler things and haul away what they wanted…because I can’t keep everything that makes me think of them as babies anymore.

Everything that was left was given to St. Vincent de Paul.  It had to go. Because I had to come to terms with the fact that it is not worth the expense of moving memories.

It really was freeing to be rid of all the dead weight that we had around the house because we used to have space for it.  We are having our own experiment in “tiny house” living, even though it’s really a joke. Our version of “tiny house” is just smaller than what we are used to…it’s still a good size in the real world.

It is a relief, and I am happy that we are in a place where my husband is free to pursue any opportunity that comes his way, because he can now without the heavy burden of keeping up a larger home and all the expense that comes with it.

It has also made me so grateful for all the physical aspects of a home that I took for granted, and even though I have said in the past that I am not interested in building a home from the ground up, I do have a better idea of what we will want from the next home we own.

And lastly, it has really brought into focus what is truly important in life – and it really is not things, even though “things” show up on my gratitude list because I had forgotten that I needed to appreciate them.

My gratitude list:

Our good health

Our happy family

Our tribe of family and friends that lift us up and remind us of the important things in life – health and happiness <3

Clarity of what is truly important in my life

Co-parenting – I have never respected single parents more than I do now…and then add on the layer of full-time, working outside of the home, and taking care of the home…I have no idea how single parents stay sane. I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread some days!!

Double-paned windows – who knew they kept out so much heat?!? I had an inkling…now I know they are an amazing luxury that I will never take for granted again!!

Well-insulated walls – I can literally feel the heat coming through the walls in the rental house :/ so much for the A/C bill I thought we were going to save on!!

24/7 internet access – since we still own our summer home, we escaped the heat for the month of July…but no internet here!! I have spent the month going here and there trying to time it just right so the Sweet Pea Kids can tolerate or sleep through my wi-fi time.  And I work madly to get as many emails answered and blog posts loaded as I can in an hour!!

Cupboards that don’t quit – now we are happy renters of storage space for all our seasonal items

High ceilings that provide space for lots of shelving – catch 22 there…some of the things I stored way up high when we moved into the Dobson house 8 years ago were still in the same place as we were moving out…you can imagine where those things went during the purge phase…

Electricity – I can’t imagine life without it.

Along with all this change, I have a renewed commitment to be Peaceful Mama.  This season has been hard for me, and I am an adult. I am in a place where I understand that lives end, and that people move, and that jobs change.

My people, the four pieces of my heart that walk around outside of my body…they are still little. Even though they are capable of speech, they are not always capable of articulating all the emotions that are swirling through their bodies as they adjust to the huge shifts that have been happening to us and to our friends that have lost loved ones. They can’t figure out why they feel “off”, they just know that they are, and express it in ways that make me want to tear my hair out.  Which is the worst example ever!!! My inner 4-year old acting out is not going to do them any good right now, that is for sure!

I have found myself taking four deep breaths before I speak. I literally cover my mouth before I speak. I am forcing myself to use Spanish even more of the time, especially now that their Dad isn’t around and I don’t need to translate for him to keep up with what I am saying.  Speaking in another language makes me slow down, and I don’t know a lot of angry Spanish words…so my words are kinder than if I revert back to English.

I have to remember that I am their North Star. I have to be the best me, I want them to feel safe when they are with me, and now that I am pretty much it for the parent, it is such a clear, clear mirror…they do what they see…am I providing them the best example I possibly can??

I hope so. I am trying…and I am doing ok most of the day.

Moving forward, I want to shine brightly for all of us to navigate through these choppy waters that are our reality right now. I have absolute faith that all these lessons are going to serve us and bless us in the future. I trust that there is another season of smooth sailing ahead of us. Whenever that day comes, however long it will last, I know it’s ahead. That is making me steady on so that I show up as Peaceful Mama now, and our children see her whether the water is choppy or calm: we can all count on Peaceful Mama to be a haven of rest.

All I can say these days, “May God’s will be done.” I have faith, and many prayers of gratitude every single day.

 

 

 

 

SPFquoteJune20

Monday Musings: What is a good mom?

“Remember that being a good mom is ultimately about the relationship you develop with your children and the important life skills, not about how your life looks on the outside to others.”

From the book Motherhood Realized ~ powerofmoms.com/motherhood-realized

Many of us find the age of the internet a blessing and a curse.  Never has been so much information been readily available and accessible. What we do with all that information depends on our personality: do we obsess over it, comparing notes, trying to get it right; or do we let it go in and out without attaching significance to it; or maybe something in between….and maybe it all depends on the day and the topic.  Regardless, there is a lot for parents to read and consider as they grow their families.

Today’s quote really resonates with me for a couple of reasons.  First, I love the idea of working backwards in our relationship…what kind of relationship do we want with our children when they are adults?  And which life skills do we want them to have? When they leave the house, as they build healthy relationships…what does that picture look like?

Once we have an idea of the end-game, it helps to make the daily minutiae more meaningful. Maybe it helps us stick to our plan to have them help even though it takes longer to get things done (anyone else with me on that one??) It certainly helps me guard my tongue – we know that words can never be taken back. Bearing in mind the adult relationship I want with my children helps me (most days!) to speak gently.

The other reason this resonates with me is because it is reflexive.  It’s easy to compare ourselves to others…what are they doing? Is it right – wrong – hippy hoodoo – who cares?  Remembering that I am only building a relationship with my children and that there is no one else to impress keeps me from playing the “better than” game.

I have to be the best mom for my children…not the best mom in the world. Just mine call me mother, and keeping that at the forefront releases me to love and accept other mothers where they are, rather than comparing them and asking if they are a better or worse mom than I am.

What do you think – what does this quote inspire in you?

SPFquoteJune13

Monday Musings: Struggles

“Successful mothers are not the ones that have never struggled. They are the ones that never gave up despite the struggles.”
~Sharon Jaynes

This quote takes on a whole new meaning today as I think of all the mothers who will go forward without their sons and daughters after the tragedy in Orlando. There are not enough words to express our deep sorrow.

In today’s image-driven society, it is easy to set ourselves an impossible standard portrayed by filtered pictures that show the best of our moments with our children.

I love this meme that has been making the rounds on social media:

HOTMESS

http://pin.it/fO4RF9G

As the popular saying goes, the struggle is real. Some of us struggle with being on time. Others, organization. Some, our temper. Others, mood disorders. Some, with self-esteem. Others, self-acceptance. And the list goes on and on.

The point is, you are not alone. I am not alone. Somewhere, someone is struggling with the same inner demons that you are facing. Take comfort in the fact that even though we don’t all want to admit it, we are all hiding something.

What matters more is how we go above and beyond that to do our best for our children. Are we providing a safe place for them? Are we recognizing their needs? Are we responding to them?

We won’t get it right all the time. We can strive to do better; resolve to show them the best that we have to give more often than not.

I truly believe that if we operate from a place of love, we will make the right decisions for our family. A parent that makes decisions from a place of love for their child will make decisions that are best for their family.

And by the same token, we must also allow ourselves a measure of grace. For we are only human, and it is impossible to be at our best all of the time. Inevitably the pressures of “adulating”, the fatigue of trying to do too much in too few hours, the stress of daily life will sometimes crowd out our best intentions to show up as whole, patient humans raising other humans.

So today I invite you to name one small thing, just one, that you can strive for today. What is one small way that you can do best by your children and your family today? Then go for it! Do it, and go to sleep tonight with the satisfaction that you did one thing right today. Even if it was just keeping everyone alive for the day – it was worth it.

I leave you with these closing thoughts:

https://goo.gl/ZF07yF

CLEANHOUSE

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/174936766748325198/

 

 

Growing your motherhood

I want to preface this post by acknowledging that this is a very mommy+me post. My husband is a huge part of our family dynamic, so I want to be sure to give him huge props for being an amazing co-parent and involved part when he is not at work. When I talk about our children, it just happens to be a relationship that grows when he is at work since I am a stay-at-home mom. When he is home he is hugely involved. However, our family dynamic is one of me doing most of the childcare from 7 am – 4 pm

One of the great joys of teaching childbirth classes is having students return for future pregnancies. It is an honor to walk this journey with them after they have been initiated through the birth journey and parenthood.

When we do a 12-week series that I like to call the Bradley “next” class, we talk a little bit about sibling preparation every session, instead of breast feeding basics that we would do with a class full of new parents.  It’s a nice way to introduce ideas about parenting multiple children, and have the couples dialogue about what their new normal might be like when they are parents of 2+ children.

One of the most common questions mothers have is similar to the one I had: How will I love the next child?

For we will never have the singularly devoted time, the energy moving in one direction; it will never again be “just the two of us” plus your co-parent. We give so much to our first-borns – some of us wonder if will we ever be able to give enough to the rest of the children.

One of the ways we prepared Puma to be a big sister was to read her some sibling books about welcoming a new baby. I  remember sobbing every I time read her a book where the mother is home with the two children, and the big sister is adjusting to life with a new baby. I am so grateful to that illustrator for drawing a tired mom and a messy house, and a family that eventually finds joy and a new normal.

BigSisNow

Image source: Amazon

It gave me hope, and it gave both of us a reference point when we needed to have a conversation about “the baby”. We could talk about the family in the book and then talk about how that might look for our family.

Now, I had the grace of having a toddler as a big sister…due to a miscarriage between Puma and Night Owl, they are almost three years apart. I had it easy in some ways, because Puma was at the age when she was happy for a little independence and relished her ability to do something, but not the baby, “they’re too little…” Some of our students are welcoming sweet peas 15-18 months apart, so the older sibling is still very much a “baby” compared to where we were.

Here is one thing I do want to share, because no matter how far apart your children are, this may resonate with you:

You are enough. You will find a way.

You may need to ask for help. You may need to lower your standards. It is possible to have multiple children and still have time every day for meaningful time with them .

One of our student’s mom shared this nugget of wisdom with me. She is the mother of six children, and this is what she told me: Every time we brought a baby home, we lowered our standards a little bit more. Now they are all gone, the house is perfect, and I miss them all.

This is what I do know as a mother to four children:
The emotional hurdle from being a mother to one child to two children is a huge one. For many of us, it’s hard to wrap our mind around the idea that our first born is graduating to be a big brother or big sister. Maybe you are asking yourself how you will possibly be able to give the best of yourself when you are being pulled in more directions.

The beauty is that our love doesn’t just double. Our heart grows exponentially, and there is so much love you can’t always hold it all! Our new children need us in a new way, sometimes a different way, and that stretches us in our motherhood.  And all our children (and your partner!) will benefit from this new mother you are growing into.

While we may grieve the loss of giving everything to our first-born, without oue other children we might be tempted to stagnate. That isn’t much of an option when you add to your family, because each new soul is going to ask something new of us as mothers. And you will rise to the occasion, again and again.  You will find yourself with more resources, more knowledge, more confidence than you might be able to imagine right now.

Reflecting back, I can tell you that it was good to cry those tears, and grieve the loss of our only-child status. It helped me be emotionally ready for the next birth. It let me turn the page to the next chapter.  It allowed me to embrace my new normal once I found it.

It was messier, louder and a little more chaotic at first. However, we all adjusted and I am actually sad that Otter will never get to experience the joy of being the “big” in our family…but seriously, we had to stop having children at some point!

If you are in your last days or weeks as a mother of one before you welcome your next Sweet Pea, I invite you to celebrate your only-child earthside status between between/through/after the inevitable tears. Do one special thing every day, take pictures, talk about all the things your first-born can imagine about being a “big”. Celebrate your motherhood and your relationship with your first-born, while still taking the time to point out all the big brothers and sisters while you are out and about. It will help both of you adjust to the idea of the new baby :)

I hope your motherhood journey will continue to inspire you and grow you in rich and wonderful ways <3

More about Sibling Preparation on Sweet Pea Births HERE

You can also check our archives here on SPF for blog posts both Cassandra and I have written about sibling preparation.

SPFMissingOut

fear of missing out.

I am so pleased to welcome back Cassandra as a guest blogger today. I so treasure her introspection into her own motherhood journey. Her thoughtful approach and consideration continues to inspire me in my own motherhood. Thank you so much for contributing today, C.O. <3, K.B.

I have major FOMO (fear of missing out) within my current role as stay at home parent and full time care taker of my young children.

I will preface this post with the fact that everyone’s family dynamics are very different and my situation is fairly intense right now. My 15 month old daugher was exclusively breastfeeding until very recently when she began eating solids. She currently can only eat a handful of foods and I can only leave her for ~1.5 hours (possibly 2) at a time, and really only with my husband/her dad at this point.  She only sleeps 45 minute stretches at night (but has had a couple 2 hour stretches recently though so… hope!) and it is pretty much all me, all of the time. We do not live near family or close friends and my 4 year old son does not attend any kind of school, he is also solely cared for by me during my husband’s fairly long working hours and then by both of us when my husband is home.

This FOMO could be attributed to starting my motherhood journey young, I was 22 when I became pregnant with my son, but there was a lot packed into those years prior to that. I got married, graduated college, got a job, bought a house, traveled to Europe 3 times, yet my heart is constantly aching for all of the things I feel like I am missing out on. While I am in bed nursing, on the couch nursing, walking around my neighborhood for the 3rd time that day, cleaning up the same mess every night, washing the exact same loads of laundry over and over and catching glimpses of myself in the mirror (after I have cleaned and groomed and fashionably dressed my children) only to be caught off guard that I may in fact seriously start being mistaken as a homeless person – I think about all of the fun “out there” that is being had and start getting seriously worried about parts of myself that may never actually exist again.

 

Yes the internet is a glossy place where everything looks better than it really is and yes I am immensely grateful for every single second I have with the healthy, tiny humans that have literally come into existence & remained alive from the cells and blood within my body but LOOK AT ALL THE FUN THINGS ALL OF THESE OTHER PEOPLE ARE DOING.

Maybe I should go back to work so I don’t feel like I am missing out on a career?

Maybe I should move closer to family so I don’t feel like I am missing out on helping hands?

Maybe I should never talk to any adults that do not have children so I don’t feel like I am missing out on what it would be like to not have the incredible weight of responsibility that is a helpless human’s life?

But really I don’t want to do any of those things. And I know children grow and they won’t be entirely helpless forever. These are some of the hardest years and everything is always changing. My daughter won’t be nursing on demand forever (although it very well could be a really, really long time). I know my husband and I will spend time together, alone, again at some point, but there are still some things that are just not going to happen, for me, for us. They just aren’t.

After years of this burden I have been carrying around of all. the. things. I can’t do right now and might not get to do and want to be doing coupled with the, at times, overwhelming fear of never being an autonomous being again, I recently had a very inspiring moment of clarity.

It is all a season. 

My season to accomplish outside of the home, to travel, to spend more time on self care than will ever be necessary, to reconnect with my passions, will come. But it is not about waiting, no not at all. It is about experiencing the current season for all it has to offer.

Recently on Bunmi Laditan’s Facebook page  (who will never fail to make you actually LOL & possibly wake the children) she mentioned in a post something along the lines of a friend with one very easy going child who thinks he understands how to influence’s children’s behavior positvely and offers advice ya da ya da and how it doesn’t bother her and she doesn’t say anything  because “life will be his teacher.”

This could not be more true of my experience the last five years since becoming pregnant. I now do not believe that I know much of anything, I am not in control and I actually am simply here to learn and grow as much as I can. My children are here to teach me. This season is here to teach me, to stretch me, lengthen me, make me uncomfortable and make me better.

So instead of living in fear of all of the things I may not ever get to do I am adjusting my focus to LEARN ALL THE THINGS. But seriously, to focus on growing myself – can I have more patience today than I had yesterday? Can I take a couple of moments on this walk to completely clear my mind? Can I enjoy myself right now even though I feel uncomfortable with the state of my kitchen or I don’t actually like this game my son wants to play? This is what my season has to offer and I want to get as much out of it as I can!

 

I should also probably delete Instagram, Facebook, Bloglovin’ & the like off of my phone and block all of my childless friends from texting me too 😉 What season of life are you in? What does it have to offer??

SPFApril11

Date Night Playdate

Today’s post was inspired by the answer I got when I asked a friend, “Is there anything else you want to do before your baby comes?”

Date Night Playdate
Parenting is many things. Couples who are committed to a healthy relationship know that time together to nurture that relationship is an integral part of the long-term viability of the partnership.
So what to do when time and/or finances might be tight?? Here is an idea: Date Night Playdate!!
How it works:
We probably all have 1-2 families we trust with our children. Talk to them about this and see what you can work out.
First of all, you have to make sure they are willing to trade childcare for date nights.
Things you might want to hash out:
Who provides the snacks? Does the host provide meals or do you pot-luck? Is it a sleepover or just an afternoon or night out? Are your parenting principles in alignment (Time-outs? Time-ins? etc.)? I am going to guess they probably are if you would leave your children in their trust – check for your own peace of mind if necessary.
Then, agree to trade at least one time. You might pot-luck for dinner and then one set of parents goes out on the town (or home for kid-free time!) while the other set of parents entertain. Then you switch next week/month/year…however it works out for your crew.
Some families may do better with a drop-n-go to minimize separation anxiety. And some trades might include 2-3 families so that four sets of eyes are watching the kiddos; and then all grown-ups get a little adult conversation, too.
Before you leave, clearly state that the adults in charge have permission to correct behavior if necessary, and that you will be back to get them at “xx:xx” time. Tell them you hope that they will have so much fun on their playdate, and then hit then hit the road. (If your children are time-driven, by all means pick them up on time, barring extenuating circumstances.)
Then go out – or go home!! Whatever suits your budget. You can make a nice meal together and rent a movie for a fraction of the cost of dinner at a restaurant and a movie at the theater. Or go for a walk…ride bikes…play at the park…those are free! Maybe you want to get some grocery shopping done without little hands to watch. Whatever works for you and that gives you time to check in and share affection with your partner – plan it and then do it!!
I would love to hear what works for you and what kind of creative date nights you come up with. Or maybe you are already doing this and have some encouragement to share. Please leave a comment with your thoughts – can’t wait to read what you have to say!!
Here are three different idea lists for “date nights in” and/or “date nights on a budget” – enjoy!!
10 ideas via mom365
10 ideas via the bump
Cheap Ideas via Valley Parents
SPFMar28

Just One More

Our sweet friend that I was praying for was called home to be with our Lord last week.  I really feel like we got a miracle, although it wasn’t the one for a complete recovery.  She was able to have two lucid days to recognize, share and laugh with all the family and friends that came to see her. The doctors were shaking their heads in disbelief on Sunday…and she lived for two more days beyond that. It was a gift to share two more days with her here on earth – for that I am grateful.

As I looked for pictures of her, I started to panic. I knew I had one of her that I loved…and it took almost two hours to find it because I had to go that far back in our digital files.  After I finally found it, it was bittersweet. I had the picture I wanted, yet in the process of looking, I realized how few I had of her to remember her by, and I have not even one of the two of us together.

Neither of us was crazy about having our picture taken, and knowing how much I hated to have my picture taken, I wanted to honor her wish not to be photographed.  In my head, we had years with her…why would I need a picture to remember her by? This was a person with whom we celebrated birthdays, who we saw over the summer in the mountains, who we could pop in and see on the weekend…why would I risk upsetting her for the sake of a memory when I knew she was a forever kind of friend?

Along those lines, I am also going to encourage you to make memories now. We are all tired, short on time, and have homes in various states of disarray.  Lately, every time she was on my mind, I would hear she was in the hospital again.  Instead of taking the time to go see her after each discharge, I said a prayer of thanksgiving that she was well, thinking that there was still plenty of time. I had envisioned that we would travel with them after our children were older – and by then we wouldn’t care about taking pictures, right???

Wrong on both counts – our friendship is out of time, and I sit here with a short stack of pictures to share with our children when we talk about this wonderful friend who came to visit each of them after they were born, who came to baptisms and birthday celebrations, who kept special toys in her home for the times when children came to visit…so little of that is recorded because I wanted to honor her desire to stay off camera.

What is the fine line between respecting someone and recording their presence in your life? I still don’t know. Personally, it has made me grateful that I heard Jen McClellan of Plus Size Birth speak at a conference two years ago. Her message to “Capture Motherhood” really resonated with me, and since then, I have made an effort to be in more pictures with our family.

So today, I am going to add one more voice to the growing body of posts on the blogosphere that say: take the pictures. Life is messy, and for too long we have been deceived that the only worthy pictures are the “perfect” ones that we would print on a holiday card.  The truth is that out of the whole year, there are only 2-3 days that we really dress up for; that leaves 362 days of “real life” that we have the rest of the time.  Catch some of it on camera…so those that want to remember you in pictures will have something to look at and share along with all the wonderful stories of living life with you.

Along with taking more pictures, I am also going to try to remember to tell people what I love and appreciate about them more often. This friend was part of my journey of becoming a mother – I don’t know if I could ever thank her enough for her help the first time I tried to breastfeed in public. Without her by my side, I would have been even more of a mess that first time.  She calmed me down, found a way for me to latch Puma in privacy, and sat by my side as tears of pain and embarrassment rolled down my face. I know I thanked her that day.  Looking back, I can see how pivotal that moment was for me, and I wish I had told her again how much that moment means to me today. It always felt silly to want to say something…now I wish I had.

If you have those special people in your life, give them an extra big squeeze today as you tell them why they are important to you.  And get that picture with them, too.  Capture life.

My story of hearing Jen speak HERE

Jen’s Plus Size Birth blog HERE

Birth Without Fear events HERE