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Confessions of a Tired Mother

I was tired. I was frustrated. I’d nursed her every hour and a half today, every time she started to make that noise–that blood curdling screaming screeching noise to get my attention. I have no idea why she’s suddenly decided this is the way to communicate what she wants. On top of that, her sister wouldn’t go to sleep either and their Dad has been sound asleep, mumbling to himself in dreamland, for hours. So I’d been going back and forth from one bedroom to the other trying to get one of them to fall asleep so I could then focus on the other one. One won’t stop talking and the other won’t stop squirming. I wanted to hold her close and rock her to sleep but she was restless. I put her down and sat next to her on the floor while we waited for Sissy to fall asleep, but she crawled away into the hall. I tried putting her down in her bed and she just screamed.

Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I woke up their Dad and demanded he help me. He sits up and says, “What do you want me to do? She’s just going to keep doing that.” I walked across to the other side of the room, leaned against the dresser and said, “I shook her! And unless you want to wake up to me doing it again, I would appreciate some help. I don’t know what to do! I can’t take it anymore.” He got up, picked her up, and I went downstairs.

When I came back up she was crying out what sounded like “mum mah mum mah” and reached for me. So I gave it one last shot. Tears rolled down my face and onto her little chest as I propped her up on a pillow and lifted my shirt hoping to finally nurse her to sleep. I wanted her close but didn’t feel the closeness. The blood curdling screams she had been letting out had worn me down. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was sobbing now as I tried to nurse because of the shame and guilt I felt. She didn’t go straight to nursing. She looked up at me, quiet now, with those deep blue apologetic eyes as if to say, “I didn’t mean to make you cry”, waiting for me to offer her my milk. All I could think of was how I grabbed the sides of her sleepsac and shook her against her bed saying, “Stop it! Stop making that noise!” It wasn’t forceful or harmful, but the feeling of angst I got every time I heard that sound. I thought, “I just want to throw her!” And all I could think was what a terrible person I am for even thinking that. How could I let those thoughts enter my head? I thought about PPD. But I’m not depressed. I’ve been feeling good and happy. I love motherhood!

He tried to console me, telling me it’s totally normal to feel that way sometimes and that there’s nothing wrong with me. Everyone has those moments. But it hurts to think that you love your baby so much but one noise can make you lose your mind like that.

My sweet baby drifted off to sleep that last try. I was finally able to rest. When she woke up again 4 and a half hours later, I calmly nursed her back to sleep. She slept another 5 and a half hours before waking up for the day. I know she doesn’t remember what a rough start we had to our night. But I do. It’s all I can think about. So, today we are spending every possible moment snuggling, nursing, and loving.

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Who Is Your Worst Critic?

“We are our own worst critics” is how the saying goes. But what if that’s not true? What if we try every day to love ourselves and create positive energy, only to be knocked down by those around us? What if simple words from the one we love have much greater effect than intended?

I see all these other women telling their stories, making it look like they have it all together and have husbands who take all their amazing photos and support them 100%. And I can’t help but feel like that’s what I need to make this work. But I have to remind myself, this is your journey, not their’s. Focus on your own path.

When I started this blog I had to explain to Mr. Mac that not all blogs are filled with people telling their life stories and revealing all their insecurities. He just didn’t see why anyone would want to read about other peoples lives or especially put their own lives out there. And so in self-defense I told him that my blog didn’t have to be like that. It could be about cooking or crafting or DIY projects. But truthfully, that’s not what it’s about. I needed a place to be myself. A place to vent, to make jokes, to have the freedom to be vulnerable and exposed and to grow.

In therapy a couple years ago I learned how important it is not to internalize the world around me. There are times when I think I’m doing great and making such progress. But one comment from my partner can send me spinning into a world of self-doubt and negativity. A couple days ago I decided to make a vision board in order to organize my thoughts for the new year and try to figure out what it was I wanted to focus on. I spent 2 days on it, in between the rest of my usual mom duties, and when finished I proudly exclaimed, “Ta Daaaah!”

When he asked to see it I reluctantly handed it over and waited nervously for his reaction. He looks over it saying, “law of attraction…I like that…get outside, be active…very nice….”. Then it happens. Here comes the criticism. “You know, I see all these great things on here and not one thing about being a loving, supportive partner…” he says with a sarcastic undertone.

That right there is exactly what I’m talking about. Just when I think I’m moving forward, he says something that makes me take 2 steps back. It’s just a simple comment, but it goes straight to my head. Its a little easier to brush off comments from strangers, but what do you do when the critic is someone so close to you?

So, how would I treat this if it was a friend or daughter in this situation? Well, we need to remember not to internalize the criticism. Chances are it’s not that you did anything wrong but that they are projecting something they want for themselves onto you. But also, there’s a reason they say you are your own worst critic. We have to try hard not to let the words of others get in our head. The more we practice letting it roll off our back, the better wired our brain is to handle criticism.

So, Mamas, practice self-love. Practice not letting the words get to you. And I will try my best to practice what I preach.💜

*photo inspired by a quote from Bobby Knight.

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Dear Future Me

The other day my daughter brought me a piece of paper with a bunch of questions directed to “we” and told me about a project she was doing. She’d come up with it all on her own and I was pretty impressed with the idea so I decided to do it myself.

“Dear Future Me,

How are we doing? Did we find happiness? Have we reached any of our goals? Did we find what we were looking for out of life?

I just wanted to tell you that you look amazing just the way you are. Your body is beautiful. It bore the burden of carrying and growing life. It’s ok if it’s scarred and stretched and squishy and soft. Your face is beautiful. It bears lines of laughter and bags of sleepless nights caring for your children.

You are doing an excellent job raising those kids. Savor every moment with them. Your time will come. You may not know where you are going now or what you want to be when you grow up, but it will all become clear one day. Stay focused. Enjoy life. Don’t hold back.

Love,

Future You”

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Words for the New Year

Ah, January…finally a month where there are no major holidays to steal all of our time and energy. A time when we can actually spend some time focusing on ourselves.

I’ve been kind of lost in limbo lately, trying to transition into the new year. I got all my new calendars: 1 for kitchen, 1 for office, and my planner. I have all the best intentions for the best to come. But I was still feeling scattered. So, I decided to make a vision board with things or ideas that are important to me in the coming year.

I noticed a trend in some of the other blogs I follow of choosing 1 word to guide your year. Well, that just seems way too hard for me to narrow down. So I chose several words to include in my vision board:

  • Driven. So that I will have the motivation to reach my goals.
  • Productive. So I may feel the sense of accomplishment needed to curb depression.
  • Active. So I can set a good example and we as a family can start living a healthier lifestyle.
  • Grateful. So I may appreciate all the blessings in my life as they happen instead of once they’re gone.
  • Patient. So that I can teach my daughter to have patience and so I can live in the moment without feeling anxiety about what’s to come.
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When The Seasons Change, So Do I

A couple months ago just as Summer was coming to an end and I was settling into being a new mom again, I got ambitious. I decided I would take up blogging again and jump right back into the idea of being a “Mom Blogger”. I got all excited, started learning more about photography, taking a lot of photos, and kind of felt like I had reinvented myself. I was really happy. I was enjoying this rediscovered hobby of mine and hoping I could make it work.

Then the holidays started creeping up on me…and the weather started changing. I began to feel the familiar clouds of SADD rear their ugly heads again. It’s one thing to live with depression and get treatment. But then to have your progress and your newfound happiness knocked down time and time again by Mother Nature, it’s just not right. I tried to deny it. I tried to push through it. But the stress of the holidays, coupled with the lack of sleep I was getting with the baby, became too much.

I’ve spent the last few days in a post-Christmas haze with a terrible head cold brought on by running on empty for 2 days. So while most people are wrapping up their year, posting recaps, and planning for a new beginning, I’m stuck in a brain fog feeling unmotivated, at a loss for creativity, and unsuccessful. What I thought was going to be a new adventure for me has now become a chore. I’ve been stumped for what to post, searching for interesting content and feeling like my life is just too boring. But you know what? Maybe that’s just what this blog is meant to be. I never set out to be an advice giver or a trend setter, although those things would be nice, I set out to record my thoughts and life experiences. I know it leaves me in a vulnerable place by sharing it with the world (or the 5 people who actually read it). But this is me. And this is what it’s like for me. So, if you want to get to know me you’ll have to take the good, bad, & ugly. And maybe someone out there can relate and share their story, so we know we’re not alone on life’s journey.

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You’re a Mean One, Mama Grinch

To be honest, I’ve been kind of a Grinch this year. Now that I’m home with a baby again and we’re back to one income, I knew we had to be selective in what we bought. Well, that really takes the fun out of it. I end up analyzing everything I want to buy to make sure it’s the right gift, something useful, practical, or meaningful, and looking for the best deal.

Gone are the days when I used to just hit the mall and buy whatever I thought someone would like, or whatever whimsical item reminded me of someone in a fond way. I know it’s hypocritical considering my last post about gift ideas, but that’s what Christmas shopping is supposed to be! Not an exchange of Amazon wish lists containing things like socks and ice packs. But without the ability to shop freely like the good old days, it just becomes too stressful.

When I found out Mr. Mac had pretty much finished all his shopping by December 1st, I just decided not to do my own. Usually we each do our own shopping without consulting each other and end up with way too many gifts for Em. He buys stuff that he thinks is fun (like the year he got an entire box of super hero & ninja turtle costumes with weapons) and I get the dolls and crafts and stuff like that for her. Hence the overcrowded playroom. But this year I wanted to cut down on the number of random things she got. So I bravely trusted his judgement and didn’t do my own shopping for her.

I’m also really trying to encourage “experience” gifts this year and I don’t think it’s going over very well because we’re all too used to giving and opening “things”. When I suggested it I got, “nah…that’s no fun.”

But my favorite part of Christmas has got to be the gift wrapping. I love finding beautiful paper and matching the ribbons to make it extra special and fancy looking. Sometimes the wrapping is nicer than the gift! The one thing I’ve realized is that it’s not what you give but the feeling you get when you give a gift that matters. And hopefully the feeling they get when they receive that gift.

Thanks for reading my random thoughts. Have a warm and happy holiday season!

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Acceptable Christmas Gifts for My Kids

Every year at this time we excitedly make our Christmas lists. Then the big day rolls around and by the next morning our house looks like it got hit by a toy-nado. Some of those toys get shoved behind other stuff only to be found a year later unopened and uninteresting. So I’ve decided to give my opinion on some practical gift ideas that will please not only the kids, but also the parents.

1. Starbucks gift cards. Because Mom is tired of hearing them beg for Frappuccinos and cake pops every time she needs to refuel and then hearing from Dad how much money was wasted giving in to them. You feel me?

2. Movie theater gift cards. If I can curb my anxiety about active shooters in the theater (Yeah, I know it’s crazy but it’s a thing), I would gladly take them somewhere quiet for 2 hours to get a break from being cooped up inside all winter. Better yet, YOU can use the gift cards and take them to the theater! Yeah, let’s do that.

3. Stocks. Yes, I’m serious. Buy them stock in anything. Preferably something that has potential. But anything will do. Then I can explain to them how one day they will be rich from this and they’ll think that’s really cool. Shortly after that they will forget about it completely, just like the random toys I find in their room. So if the stock bombs, no harm done. If it does well, I’ll have some money to pay for their college or wedding or bail them out of jail…whichever comes first.

4. Shoes. As much as I hate adding to collections that could ultimately take over my living space, kids burn through shoes quick. Even if the kid is destined to be an Imelda Marcos, another pair is not going to be around for long. Chances are they’ll need the backup pair.

5. Books. This is another one that has the potential to take up space if you get a lot of them. But the good thing is that kids outgrow books almost as fast as they outgrow shoes. They’re always getting to the next level in their reading and pretty soon they’re not interested in this or that which makes it easier to part with than a stuffed animal, jewelry box, or something they made with a crafting kit. Even better, if they have a tablet or smart device you can go with an e-book or online magazine subscription.

So those are my ideas for kids gifts. Maybe it takes away a little bit of the excitement of opening a shiny new toy. But sometimes it’s nice to give a gift that wins points with the parents too and shoot for something practical.

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This is What Happens When You Neglect Housework for Your Entire Pregnancy

The week before Thanksgiving I had both the most productive and destructive day I’d had all month…actually in about 9 months.

The house was a huge mess because we spent all day cleaning.😳😳😳 WHAT?!

Yes. In order to clean we had to tear apart every inch of this place. He even painted the ceiling to fix the stain from that time he dropped a tub of yogurt. It splashed all over and he didn’t have time to clean it before work, so by the time I wiped it off, the damage was done.

I emptied out Em’s entire closet and started filling garbage bags with stuff that doesn’t fit or she doesn’t need just so we’d have room to store all the stuff she won’t get rid of from the playroom.

Half way through, she starts rummaging through the garbage bags and getting mad that I’m getting rid of her stuff. And you know what? I didn’t feel bad. We are dealing with hoarder status here. I’m actually kind of concerned that she has a problem. Is it normal for kids to keep piles of cardboard boxes, clothes that don’t fit them, toys they don’t play with, band-aids, staples, paperclips, broken necklaces?

I can’t tell you how many times I picked something up and muttered “What the hell is this?” It’s enough to make me want to throw everything out and start over with nothing. I can see it now. The award for worst mom ever goes to… the lady who threw all her kids stuff in the trash just to spite them for being slobs.

Of course, I didn’t do that. It took me 3 whole days to sort through the rubble. But in the end I was able to at least organize most of the mess. It left me feeling like I should never get her anything new again because she just has so much already and won’t part with any of it. I’ve tried everything. I’ve suggested we donate so that kids who don’t have that much can enjoy it. Nope. She’s not having it. I guess I’ll just have to keep sneaking it out while she’s out of the house until I’ve made a dent.

Style

Thrifting is Life

Ever since I was a teenager I’ve had a thing for thrift shopping. I used to go into the city with my mom and we’d find fun little resale shops and random offbeat boutiques to browse. Back then it was never about the prices, it was more about finding pieces that matched my style, or rather my style of the moment. As I got older I grew out of thrift shopping. I couldn’t stand the smell of old clothes anymore. I was drawn to the perfectly organized color coded merchandising displays of mall stores and the increasing appeal of designer labels.

Then I became an adult. I became a mom…of girls. And while I am obsessed with styling my little ones (for as long as they’ll let me), I am not sold on the prices for some of these must have fashions. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for a beautiful fashion ad or perfectly laid out photo of the cutest little baby outfit. So, I’ve been known to do some late night shopping online while I’m nursing baby to sleep.

I’ve found some of the most gorgeous outfits for baby on Instagram and even commented, how do I get this?! So, I follow the link tree to see how much it is… after going through 3 pages of blank product space savers on their Etsy page, reading a long set of instructions, and feeling thoroughly confused, I realize this is more than just a shop. There is a method to this… there is a release date and VIP groups and fan pages. I mentioned it to Mr. Mac and his reaction was, “What? Do they think they’re a pair of Jordan’s?” Apparently so! Apparently this baby romper or Pom-Pom hat is so special and made of the finest wool spun from the holiest sheep that they are only releasing 3 of them and they’re charging $98 each.

Can I just be real here for a minute? …Ninety Eight dollars?! You must be out of your damn mind! What on earth justifies paying nearly $100 on an outfit for a tiny human that will only fit in it for 3 months? And will probably get poop-stained on the first wear.

I’m not out to get these businesses. I fully support any mom who is putting her blood sweat and tears into a handmade business. I’m just not likely to support her with my wallet. As tempting as it is to go after some of these beautiful styles that I know would look adorable on my baby girl, I will continue to shop at thrift stores for her. I’ll check the clearance racks and discount stores for hidden gems. I’ll do my comparison shopping online until I find a deal I can live with. But I will not pay inflated prices for something that, in my world, just shouldn’t come with that price tag.

What about you? Are you a thrifter? A couponer? I can’t get into coupons. It’s a whole thing, but that’s one for another post. Let me know your thoughts or experiences in the comments!

*Items in Kenzie’s Holiday collection pictured above are a combination of thrift shop, hand-me-down, and Amazon finds all under $13.

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The 4th Month Hit Me Like a Mack Truck

As if it weren’t enough to be faced with the return of my period postpartum. The snuggly little world we had started to settle into seemed to instantly be turned upside down. Here are some of the changes that I encountered once we hit that 4 month mark.

  • Longer stretches between feedings, so I have more time to get wrapped up in doing something and not realize it’s time for her to eat. Then I’m like why are you so fussy?! Oh…you haven’t eaten for 4 hours. No wonder!
  • She was starting to get predictable. If she looked sleepy I could either rock her or maybe even set her down in her bed and she’d just fall asleep. Nope. Not anymore! Even rocking her, she’s too restless to relax and fall asleep during the day. She only sleeps when I’m holding her in my arms and then she’ll sleep for 3 hours right before bedtime and then be wide awake.
  • Give me all the things! She wants to look, touch, grab, mouth everything in the room. Everything is a distraction. Even my phone. Hard to blog or work on posts when she’s trying to grab it!

As I read more about the 4th month and “leap”, it started to make sense. If you haven’t read Wonder Weeks or downloaded the app, I suggest you look into it. There is some good information as to what your baby is going through and why their behavior is suddenly changing. What made the most sense to me was something that my sister-in-law pointed out. At this stage babies are working so hard to get to the next step. They are finally able to comprehend more and move more. So they want to do it all at once. She’s hungry, but she wants to practice rolling at the same time and she’s frustrated that she has to stay in one position in order to get milk. “Why can’t the milk just magically get in my belly while I’m working on these skills? I want to multitask! I want it all!” So they get frustrated and seem extra fussy. It’s really their way of coping with all these new developments.

It can be extra frustrating for moms because all we want is to know how to help our tiny babes. But hang in there, Moms! You’ll get through it, I promise.