Confession: Being A Stay-At-Home-Mom Just Isn’t For Me

I have a confession to make, and some of you might cast immediate judgement—I truly do not like being a stay-at-home mom.  Thinking back, I’m not quite sure what my original plan was, six-and-a-half years ago, when I had Man.  At that time, I was a speech therapist working with the elderly population in nursing homes.  I told them that I would be returning after four months, but in the recesses of my mind I wasn’t convinced.  When Man turned three-months old, I barely knew how to take care of him myself, let alone teach someone else how to do it in my absence.  Therefore, I resigned from my job with the plan of returning to the workforce when he was one.

Surprise!  When he was nine-months old, I became pregnant with Lady.  It seemed unrealistic to go back to work for just six months before leaving so I again delayed my return to work.  I told myself that I would give Lady the same whole year that I gave Man.

Flash forward a bit to Lady’s first birthday and it grew obvious that Man was not like other children.  His then-undiagnosed ADHD and SPD made him VERY dangerous.  You must believe me when I say I literally could not take my eyes off him for fear that he was either in mortal danger or putting his sister in danger.  At that time in his life he was climbing on counters, getting into ovens, running out of the front door of the house daily, and unplugging any wire he could get his hands on.  He was one of those children who defied the laws of babyproofing.  I was his babyproofing.

As the years went on he remained dangerous in many ways and I just didn’t trust someone else to take care of him.  If he pushed some kid down the slide at a park, I, his mother, needed to be there to smooth over the destruction.  I know how overwhelmed I felt taking care of two toddlers, and I felt that there was no way I could ask someone else could do it.  Maybe, in the back of my mind, I was just scared to return to work after three-and-a-half years away, and this provided an adequate excuse.

Man entered Kindergarten last year, and in many ways life became easier. However, I had grown so unhappy over the years that the thought of going back to a job that I didn’t love seemed intolerable.  I had always wanted children.  There was never a doubt in my mind that starting a family was one of my number one goals in life.  So, imagine my surprise when after some soul searching I realized that being a stay-at-home-mother was not for me.  It took me six long years to admit that to myself.  I was under the impression that once you had kids, you were supposed to enjoy taking care of them.  Sure, not every moment of every day, but yes, ultimately child rearing was supposed to be satisfying.  Personally, for me, it did not bring the level of daily satisfaction that I want out of life.

We scrimped to hire a babysitter and for the first time in six years I had a helping hand.  Over the past six months, I have never felt better.  Much of that is due to the fact that I am now able fill my days with something in addition to child rearing.  A few months ago, I made the decision to fulfill a lifelong dream and applied to schools for a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling.  I start school tomorrow and I could not be more excited.

Of course, because the world works this way, my babysitter is on vacation for two weeks while I am beginning school.  Therefore, my mother is coming to help with the kids while I am in class.  We were going over the schedule:

“Are you getting home first or is J (my husband)?” my mom asked.

“No, I won’t be home until about 9:30 in the evening, I have a board meeting at the place where I volunteer right after class.”

“Oh, well… how are the kids handling all of this, Laura?” she questioned in her most “I’m not judging you, but really I am judging you” tone.

“The kids will be fine.  They want me to be happy and being home with them all day did not make me happy.  They have had me all to themselves for six and a half years and now it’s my turn.”

‘Uh huh…” she replied and abruptly changed the conversation.

The change in conversation was her signal to let me know that she didn’t agree at all but wasn’t going to engage me in a debate.  In her eyes, staying at home is most important, and above anything else, my children need me whether I was happy or not.  And P.S.- children are the light of a mother’s life, so why wasn’t I just happy?!

I disagree.  I feel I have been there for them and will continue to be there for them every day of their lives.  I love them so much, that I put my own feelings aside to fulfill the obligation of being their parent.  I thought that that was what was most important.  But, after a few years, I wasn’t being the mom I could be.  I was a shell of myself going through the motions.  I wasn’t present and I certainly was not giving them the mother they deserved.

I don’t like being a-stay-at-home mom and spending my days being at the beck and call of my children and my household.  I hate running them from activity to activity and bringing them to play dates just to sit and watch them play with another child.  I get bored after about five minutes of pretend play; please, PLEASE, do not make me serve fake food to that imaginary family one more time. Pretty please?  I do not want to beg anyone to eat his dinner anymore, standing over him imploring him to eat one single bite after one single bite.  I just can’t do it anymore.  I feel guilt and shame even admitting this because it makes me feel like I’m a horrendous mother, but I want to spend some of my days doing something else that stimulates me differently.  It’s what I need to be a happy person.  And as a happy person I will be a better parent when I am with them.  It’s not as though I don’t love my children and garner great joy from them, of course I do, but that joy is even greater, even more valuable, when I’m doing tasks outside of parenting.

So tomorrow, I turn my family upside down to do something just for me.  I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Well, if you didn’t want to take care of your kids, then why did you have them?” And the truth is, I feel very selfish doing this.  Nevertheless, I also know that I have no chance of being truly happy if I don’t.  I know I am no less dedicated to them as I was when I was staying at home all day; I am still caring for them.  I am showing them that it is never too late to follow a dream, while working towards creating the happiest home I can for them.  In my heart, I know I will still be here for them—I will still be their mom. I will make sure that they feel loved and cared for and if they need me, no matter what I’m doing, I will be there.  But I will no longer be resentful.

I’m Still Dreaming of A Jewish Christmas

I am Jewish.  There was a time in my life when I was in a serious relationship with a non-Jew.  When discussing marriage I always considered the religious difference; it hung heavily over my head like holiday mistletoe.  Would we celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah?  How would we explain it to our imaginary future children? It was certainly confusing.  Ultimately, this relationship ended (not due to religious differences) and I married a Jewish man.  I assumed, therefore, that other religions wouldn’t be a factor for our children.

This was my big mistake.

When he was one, I took Man to sit on Santa’s lap.  Why not? Since he was too young to ask questions or build memories, I figured there was no harm. We waited on the obligatory long line until it was Man’s turn—and finally we arrived.  Before us, there sat the red-suit-clad Santa with a real beard (a nice touch!) and a permagrin affixed to his rosy-cheeked face.  If I had listened closely enough I’m sure I could have actually heard the angels singing.   Like a little Santa factory, Man was placed on his lap, a picture was snapped before he could resist too much and off of his lap he went.  It was all of 30 seconds and if it weren’t for the single picture (and the fact that I’m now telling all of you nice folks) I could deny that this event ever took place.

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Man on Santa’s Lap

I had never heard the word “Santa” out of his mouth again, until about two years later.  Then when his sister grew old enough to understand about Christmas, it became impossible to escape.  Christmas is everywhere, and well, let’s face it, Hanukah just doesn’t come with as much flash and pizzazz.

The questions started simply enough:

Q: Where does Santa live?

A: The North Pole.

Q: Do we have a chimney?

A: Yes.

Q: Can we go meet him?

A: Maybe.

Q: What do the elves do?

A: Build toys.

But now the conversations have grown more complex.  And just when I’m finishing answering a battery of questions from one of them, I turn around and have to answer a litany from the other:

Q: Why does “so and so” have a Christmas tree and we don’t?

A: Because we don’t celebrate Christmas.

Q: Why not?

A: Because we’re Jewish and we celebrate other holidays like Hanukkah.

Q: What else do we celebrate?

A: Passover.

Q: What’s that?

A: You remember when we had a “seder” and we couldn’t eat until we finished reading stories from that little book, the Haggadah?

Q: Mom, can we decorate our house with blue lights for Hanukah?

A: I’ll talk to dad about it.

Q: Mom, those people don’t have lights on their house, does it mean they are Jewish too?

A: Possibly.

Q: Why is our holiday so boring?  We don’t get to decorate our house or do anything fun!”

A: It’s not boring!  We get to spin the dreidel and eat latkes!!

I could hear audible sighs of disappointment from the backseat of the car, and the rearview mirror reflects two little faces full of regret. I could see that I had lost them.  Here was this holiday with trees and sparkly lights, ginger bread houses, and a sweet old man who gives lots of gifts; everything really did seem merrier and brighter.  How could any of our Jewish holidays compare to that!?  I mean, it’s not like there is a man at the mall dressed as a Menorah, eagerly waiting to seat my kids on his lap and ask if he’s been a “mensch” this year.  To a six-year-old and a four-year-old, lighting the Hanukkah candles just doesn’t seem as exciting as having a big, beautiful light up tree.

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Mom, why can’t we have a Christmas tree?

Compounding this is the fact that everyone around them seems to celebrate.  It’s everywhere; Curious George celebrates, as does Peppa Pig, Team Umizoomi, and the Odd Squad.  So do most of their real life friends.  All of these people get to celebrate and they don’t, and this is obviously a travesty.  They want, no, they “neeeeeeded” their own tree and gifts.  I remind them that we celebrate Hanukkah, a holiday where they receive gifts eight nights in a row!  This does not soothe them in any way, for so do half of their friends who are of mixed religions and get to celebrate both holidays.

I feel trapped!  I have no other answers for my children then the ones I have already given.  We just don’t celebrate Christmas and with every discussion they grow more and more disappointed.

Now, you might be thinking, “What’s the big deal, it’s just a tree and some lights, why not just give it to them?”  But it is a big deal.  This is a religious holiday, which is not our religion; it is not an American holiday.  Do you fast during the month of Ramadan because your child’s best friend does?  I would be betraying our religion if I showed them that it was alright to celebrate something that we didn’t believe in just because it comes with fancy accoutrement.  I am proud of my Jewish heritage and I won’t compromise that.  Moreover, I will raise my children to be proud Jews as well.  So, for now they will just have to be satisfied with eating Chinese food and going to the movies on Christmas as Jews have done for thousands of years before them.

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Hanukah latkes can rival a Christmas tree any day!

Election 2016: The Red White and Blue Lining

I teared up this morning as I propped my four-year-old daughter on my knee so she could help me vote. Her tiny hand gently held my arm as I filled in the bubble to cast my vote for the first female president.  I wanted-no, needed her to be a part of making history.  As I then watched her feed the ballot into the machine, I could fight the tears no longer and I let them flow.

 

My daughter and I making history!

We have always been a very civic minded family, at five weeks old; my husband carried my son in his arms as he cast his vote on Election Day.  Every year since we have brought our kids to the polls along with us and added to the album we call “Voting with Daddy Year By Year”.  However, not all in this country share this passion.  Just because our citizens have the right to vote, it doesn’t mean that they have been exercising that right.

voting-with-daddy

 

This year the election has been emotionally draining for each and every citizen.  I was told that the AMA actually put out special guidelines for health care professionals to treat the resulting anxiety produced by the campaigns.  However, if we take the time to look beyond the stress we see that something very important has happened- people have passionately backed a candidate in a most wholehearted and democratic way.  Democracy, at its finest, has been achieved.

 

This country was founded on the basis that every citizen has the right to elect the official of their own choosing. The person who secures the majority of these votes wins the position.  People died in wars fought to establish and maintain this very idea.  Brilliant men debated and labored to form a Constitution which holds these ideas as law of our land.

 

This election has been teeming with more passion and dedication by our citizens than one can recall in recent history.  Social media is bursting with pictures and posts of mothers, brothers, friends, sisters, millennials, elderly, African American, white, male, female, transgender, gay, straight, bi, priests, nuns, and rabbinical voters- you name it, EVERYONE in every group has been driven to the polls to vote.

 

I have especially seen parents bringing their young ones to the polls.  As stated, we have visited the polls yearly and our children have been the only ones under the age of 18 in the room.  This year, however, parents are making it a point to vote as a family; thus, passing on the vital importance of the idea of democracy to the next generation.  We had once become somewhat complaisant with our right to vote, but no longer do we feel this way.  A new life has been restored to the idea that our vote matters, that without it, we would not be the incredible and free democratic society that our founders fought for.

 

Everyone agrees that this has been an incredibly challenging and particularly emotional election year.  Some even say that, as a result, the cavernous divide in this country is irreparable.  I will argue that there is a silver lining- the entire country has been filled with such a passion for our democratic right to vote; that the next generation is already being taught how important it is to maintain and continue this right; that we will never become complaisant again!

 

 

I See You, My Ghost Child

“Mom, I don’t want to be a princess for Halloween anymore, I want to be a ghost!”

 

This declaration hits me like a punch to the gut.  I mean, Lady can be whatever she wants for Halloween; the costume itself has absolutely nothing to do with my reaction to this seemingly innocuous statement.  It’s the use of the word “ghost” that makes me cringe and break out into a cold sweat.

 

“You’re already like a little ghost,” I think to myself, sadly.

 

Did you know, dear readers, that I have a daughter too?  I write about Man all of the time — hell, my blog is called MANvsMommy, but I so rarely write about his sister, my sweet Lady who is 18 months his junior.

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My fiery Lady

I did not coin the term “ghost child” myself, but I am quite familiar with it.  This term refers to the siblings of children with special needs.  Their parents are often required to dedicate so much time to their brother or sister that they are forced to be more independent than they should be at their age.

 

Lady has an unbelievable maturity about her.  It is unclear if this is because she is a girl, she was born this way, or because her older brother requires so much more of my time that she is forced to be this way.  It’s likely a mix of all of these factors.  However, there are times when as a four-year-old, she acts as such.  You can see her independence failing her and her need to have her mom’s attention pushes itself to the forefront.  Who can blame her?  She, like Man, is simply a child who needs her mom.

 

I want you to know, Lady, that I see you.

 

I see how amenable and flexible you are because you understand how much I struggle with Man some days.

 

I gaze at you happily eating all of your dinner, no matter what I put in front of you, because you see how much time I spend trying to get Man to eat.

 

I feel how happy you are just to sit next to me, no matter what I’m doing, just to be in my presence.

 

I see you pick out your clothes and get dressed and tidy your toys without me even asking.

 

I watch you let your brother go first… every time, just to keep the peace.

 

I am in awe of how long you can sit and entertain yourself, because I am otherwise occupied.

 

I am grateful for the smile you put on my face every day.

 

I feel incredibly guilty that there are some days when your needs come last.  I hope one day to be able to make this up to you.

 

I am struck by your uncanny ability to know just when I need a random hug or a secretly whispered, “I love you, mommy.”

 

I try my hardest to carve out special time just for the two of us, though probably not often enough.

 

I admire your independence.  At four, you are more independent than I, your parent, will ever be.

 

I see your sadness when I have to leave you to take Man to one of his many appointments.  I hear you question why you don’t have as many appointments with mommy as he does. I listen to you beg to go with us and not quite understand why you have to stay home.

 

I watch your happiness every day. Absolutely nothing gets you down.  Luckily, you have inherited this trait from your dad.

 

I take notice of the words you choose to use when you try and help soothe your brother from a total meltdown.  The care you take of him is exceptional.  Your understanding of his challenges, without truly understanding them, is nothing close to miraculous.

 

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Her love for her brother is fierce.

 

Your inner and outer beauty makes me shine.

 

Your, “whatever Man can do, I can do too” attitude makes me joyous.

 

The little girl that you are now and the woman that I know you will become one day makes me proud to be your mother.

 

I glow as I watch the command you have over every room you walk into.  You are larger than life in a most innocent and purposeful way.

 

I can promise you, my Lady, that I will always be there for you no matter what—that when you truly need me, I will be by your side, as I am for your brother in his times of need.

 

I see you.  I see all of you.  You are not a ghost; you are my daughter and I love you.

 

mommyandmillie2
Silliest girl EVER

Parenting: One Part Helplessness, One Part Hope, And The Rest, Blind Faith

“Parenting doesn’t come with a manual.”

 

When I hear this sentiment uttered, it evokes an image of an elderly grandmother as she glides past a mother and her prostrated, screaming child in an aisle at Target.  The child is having a full blown meltdown and the mother, exasperated, is attempting to do everything in her power to just get that child up off the floor and the hell out of the store.  The grandmother, an “all knowing” smile on her face, chuckles to herself as she walks by while whispering this statement to the mom.

 

milliemeltdown
Did someone order a massive public meltdown?

We have all been there.  You know—those terrible and terrifying moments of parenting when all you can think is, “I have no idea what I am doing, but I hope to God it’s the right thing.”

 

I recently wrote a post called  https://manvsmommy.wordpress.com/2016/10/03/adhd-how-my-son-is-already-failing-the-first-grade/.  Many people commented, but even more people sent me private messages or approached me personally.  The circumstances of each person’s story varied, but the feelings shared were all the same, those of utter and complete helplessness.

 

“I work on her reading every night with her, but she’s not improving at all.”

 

“I’ve taken him to every feeding specialist there is, but he’s just not eating well.”

 

“I tried a new psychologist yesterday, but she seemed like all of the rest.”

 

“I tried a new medicine, but her asthma attacks are still so severe.”

 

The desperation in their accounts is palpable; it is laced with a sense of helplessness and a desire for a renewed sense of hope.  As parents, we try everything for our children. No stone goes unturned.  No book, pamphlet, webinar, or podcast is missed.   We are willing to listen to people screaming from atop their soapboxes if it means that there might be some answer to the challenges we face with our kids.

 

Feeling helpless as a parent has become as much a part of me as feeling like a successful one.  I do all I can for my children; I am trying my absolute hardest—but at times it seems insufficient.  I can read the books, study them, highlight the important passages, and then put their suggestions into play.  I can talk to the doctors, see new doctors, and take suggestions from other parents in similar situations, but nothing appears to change.   At one point, we just have to accept that we have done all we can do and let our faith do the rest.

 

Parenting is one part helplessness, one part hope, and the rest, blind faith.

 

As helpless as I feel, I have faith.  I believe that although I might not see immediate change, the fact that I am doing everything I can is enough.  I know that my heart is in the right place, it is with my children every day.  I understand that I will not feel helpless forever, and that there will be times where I feel completely ahead of the parenting game.  I trust that my best is good enough and that as long as I keep fighting things will continue to keep moving in the right direction.

 

The periods of time when I feel most helpless are also those that require me to have the most hope and the largest amount of blind faith.  I do not do it alone.  I count on my husband, my family and my support network.  It doesn’t just take a village to raise a child; it takes a village to raise a parent.

ADHD: How My Son Is Already Failing The First Grade

*I will preface this blog post by stating that I adore Man’s teachers, his school and our school district.  They have been completely supportive since the day we began our journey.

 

The phone rings and I see the number of Man’s school pop up.

 

My heart begins to beat faster, my chest tightens, and an overall feeling of complete anxiety fills my body.

 

“What happened now?” I think

 

I toy with the idea of ignoring the call.  Maybe if I don’t answer it the problem will go away, magically disappear into the vastness of my voicemail, left to be dealt with at a later time when I feel more up to it.  That thought is shoved out quickly and replaced with, “I have to deal with this right away, or I might never call back.”

 

“Mrs. R, this is Mrs… the assistant principal.”  I wonder why she even bothers to introduce herself at all anymore; she calls more often then my best friend or some family members.

 

“Man is…”

 

That blank is often filled with information on some physical altercation or some refusal to do his work all day, thus a removal of some important activity has occurred.

 

This same information comes almost daily in the form of e mails from his teacher, the school psychologist, or the special education teacher.

(*I will add that all of these women are lovely ladies dedicated to their jobs and helping Man. He does not make it easy.)

 

Man has ADHD and SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder).  Many people are misinformed, or just have some preconceived notion of what ADHD is, so here is a very brief description-

 

ADHD is NOT:

Just being hyperactive and unable to sit still.

A behavior problem.

Caused by poor parenting and lack of discipline.

Magically treated by medication.

Something small children just outgrow.

Treated with sports or other physical activities.

Just a child being lazy.

 

ADHD IS:

The inability to regulate one’s emotions.

An inability to identify and pick up on general social cues.

An inability to filter out the input around you, therefore, causing extreme distractibility.

An inability to control impulses.

Abnormal levels of activity.

Difficulty organizing and staying on task.

 

This is just a brief overview of some of the characteristics associated with this disorder and a child can have some, many, or all of the characteristics.  Additionally, any one of the symptoms may be more present and cause greater challenges than others.

 

Man has begun first grade this year and the transition has been TREMENDOUSLY difficult.  In kindergarten he was able to have some freedom to play and roam; the expectations were not as high.  Now, in first grade, he is expected to sit still for longer periods of time, do much more class work and pressures have increased one hundred fold.  In many ways, he is crumbling under these pressures.

 

When Man crumbles, it isn’t into pieces — it’s into a fine dust, a total and complete meltdown.

 

There are days when he absolutely just. Can’t. Sit. Still. long enough to do any work.  He refuses.  He must suffer the consequences accordingly.  There are rules of the classroom and he is given plenty of leeway, but at some point, something has to give and his work must be completed.  It often is not.

 

readpic

 

There are days when he calls out so often that no other student can get a word in edgewise.  He is so enthusiastic, so excited about the information in his head and he wants the class to know his thoughts.  When Man is an active participant, which is every day, he is truly an active participant.  But you can’t cut people off; you must give others a turn.  You have to raise your hand and wait patiently to be called on, as do all the other eager and smart students in the class.  He often cannot.

 

There are social situations that Man seems to perceive or interpret incorrectly.  He often uses his words once, but then if a student does not immediate do as he has asked, he will use force to get what he wants.  My sweet child (and I don’t say this because I am blind, he truly is the sweetest, most sensitive child you will meet) sees this as a slight or an insult, has absolutely no impulse control and goes right to pushing or hitting.  He uses the method of a child half of his age to get what he wants.  It happens so fast, so quickly that even when someone tries to stop it, it often does not happen in time.  He feels terrible when these events occur. Yet he cannot control them.

 

The phone calls and e mails begin to flood in.  Man had a difficult day; he refused to do his work all day.  He comes off the bus looking neutral.

 

“What was the best part of your day, my love?”  I ask, praying for something positive.

 

“Seeing my friends at lunch.”

 

“What was the worst part of your day?” the silent prayers beg that he doesn’t burst into tears for the third day in a row.

 

“They took away recess.  I had to go to the assistant principal again.  Bad kids go to the assistant principal.”

 

“You have to try and do your work,” I explain, “I know it’s hard to concentrate.  And you’re not bad.  You’re having some challenges and we are going to work it out, I promise.”  I make a promise I’m not sure I can keep.

 

“I can’t focus, mom,” he cries, hysterically, “Help me.  Help me be able to concentrate.”

 

Other days the conversation goes more like this:

 

“Man, I got a call that you hit someone today.  You KNOW you can’t do that.  You MUST respect personal space.”

 

“I know mom, but they…”

 

The explanation as to what the child did is irrelevant.  What is relevant is that in his mind, he truly believes he was slighted in some way.  Or, in some situations, he uses his words to try and mediate once, and then the impulse control takes over and he just takes care of the problem physically.  This is UNACCEPTABLE.  I imagine a long list of parents who assume my kid is an asshole, a bully, an undisciplined, unmanageable, jerk who just goes around hitting and kicking.  I know I would be thinking the same thing.  However, this is just NOT the case.  He does use force, and it’s a huge challenge, but it’s not because he’s a bully or just a mean and nasty kid.  It is because he literally has no impulse control.  He has no impulse control in many other areas as well (think calling out in the class, taking someone’s turn during gym or music class, etc.) it’s just that in this area, other kids get hurt.  I want to call all of these parents, apologize to every one of them.  Give an explanation of the situation.  I’m not sure that would do anything.

 

I want to help my sweet boy.  I want him to feel smart, for he is truly brilliant.  I want him to feel socially accepted, for he is the nicest, kindest, most loving child.  I want him to feel happy every day, because that is what a six year old deserves.  I’m not sure I know how to do that right now and it terrifies me.

 

I wish society understood just how difficult this disorder truly is.  I want parents to understand that it’s not that our children are undisciplined or lazy; they actually work twice as hard as a typical child to function day to day.  I want schools to get their act together and begin to design programs that work for children who are wired this way.  Why is my child made to feel less than every day because he cannot fit into the mold of the current educational expectations?  We have to do more for children as a whole.

 

man1stday
A smile for the first day of first grade

Hi, my name is Laura, and I’m a Mombieolic.

Hi, my name is Laura, and I’m a Mombieolic.

 

Mombieolic noun– a mother who knowingly stays up well past an appropriate bedtime in order to enjoy copious amounts of alone time.

 

Like many moms, I stay up until ungodly hours of the night- or the wee hours of the morning depending on how you want to look at it- despite severe exhaustion.  Yes, well past the time that Jimmy Kimmel has signed off and is already happily in dreamland, no doubt snoring loudly alongside his own wide awake Mombieolic wife; here I am, vice grip on my Netflix remote ready to start my sixth concurrent episode of Game of Thrones.  It vaguely resembles a throwback to my college days when the mere thought of going out for the evening before 11PM was appalling.  Um, except now I’m like 20 years and two children older and I’m not leaving my house to go socialize with friends, I’m sitting here, in complete and total silence.

mombieimage

 

During this phase of the day, my body aches, and my lids are like little lead weights careening together until I forcefully pry them open.  The blood vessels in my eye balls are so raw that I look like I have either just hot boxed my car with Snoop Dog or that I have literally been up for about 19 hours.  It takes all of my effort to lift what feels like a 30 pound ice cream filled spoon into my mouth, but I get it there, damnit!  Why?  Because I’m a classic Mombieolic!  I. Will. Stay. Awake… Despite the fact that my body is begging me for sleep.

 

Why, you may ask, would I willingly treat myself like a prisoner in Guantanamo?   Why won’t I merely just go to bed at a normal hour?  I’ve just had an incredibly long and tiring day and it appears that tomorrow- as I will every day for the foreseeable decade or two; then why not be kind to the body I have and just go to sleep? Simple- Because this is MY TIME!  It’s the only time in the house when there is complete and total peace.

 

I can almost, allllmost, pretend that I’m alone on relaxing beach vacation.  I can close my eyes- but not for too long because then I will most certainly be overcome by sleep- and picture myself on a chaise lounge, the warmth of the tropical air, the sound of the waves, the smell of the ocean, the sight of the well oiled cabana boy bringing me fresh fruit and tropical drinks… Shit- get it together, Laura, and open your eyes before you begin to doze and the drool begins to pool on your pillow!

 

The house is so quiet.  There’s no one calling for “waaaaater” or yelling at each other.  The phone isn’t ringing.  The dog isn’t barking at the neighborhood children as they all play and chatter in the street.  There is no bubble bubble bubble, bubble bubble guppies, playing in stereo throughout the house on three different tv’s.  No, the only noise is the sound of me opening another package of Tate’s extra crispy chocolate chip cookies and the loud, delicious crunch they make as I chew them orgasmically, alone!

 

 

I can watch whatever I want.  No one is asking what I’m watching or if they can watch with me.  No one is grabbing the remote from me with abnormally sweaty little hands.  I don’t have to compromise between sports or Blaze And The Monster Machines.  I can put on the Ross and Rachel breakup episode of Friends, watch it four times in a row, and no one will know or be able to comment sarcastically about how cute and idiotic I am.

 

I can eat the really good secret snacks.  Now, there are snacks that we buy for the kids (that we wouldn’t ever consider even allowing touching our pallets) and snacks that we all nosh on- but what the kids don’t know, is that there are snacks that I buy just. For. Me!!  I remove these snacks from their super secret hiding place and eat them in the wee hours of the night without risk of them being grabbed at, drooled on, licked, or tasted by others. Call me selfish, but these are my snacks.  Mine! Miiiiiiiiine!

OMG, Lady is getting sooooooo selfish!

Posted by ManVsMommy on Thursday, January 23, 2014

 

Sometimes I will go online and shop.  Yes, there is nothing like slowly and methodically browsing for new clothes in the darkness of a sleeping household.  It’s almost as good as if you had one of those personal shoppers who bring the clothes to your home try on and choose at your leisure and your convenience.  Or what I imagine that would be like…  Man isn’t suddenly behind me, grabbing at the mouse, pressing buttons, and thus magically emptying my shopping cart and replacing it with a game of Ninja Star Wars or some shit like that, all in all, effectively ruining my peaceful home shopping experience.

 

So you see; being a Mombieolic is not a choice, I am powerless over my late night alone time.  Like all addictions, every morning I, drag my exhausted, consciously sleep deprived ass out of bed and make a promise this past night was the VERY LAST night and that tonight I will without a doubt get to bed early.  Tonight, I will close my eyes and go to sleep the second that the kids go to bed.  I will give up my alone time and replace it with much needed, healthy sleep habits!

 

Fellow Mombieolics, there will be a Mombieolics Anonymous meeting tonight, in my bed, at 1AM.

Apparently, It’s C-Section Awareness Month

Apparently, it’s “C-Section Awareness Month!!”

 

Um, so, yay, they cut me open to take my baby out safely!

 

While, I understand why people feel the need to make this a special “month”; at the same time… I really have no idea.

For the record, I shit you not, it’s also Jazz Appreciation Month, National Math Month, National Volunteer Month, National Heart Worm Awareness Month, National Knuckle Downs Month (huh?), National Safe Digging Month, National Decorating Month, National Month of the Young Child, National Kite Month, and National Card and Letter Writing Month.

I am also enthusiastically planning on observing National Grilled Cheese Month, even when it will be made on matzah.

I guess I should be rather honored to be part of one of this month’s celebratory groupings, but really, I’m just not.

(On a side note, there are also some extremely important organizations to recognize in April, including National Occupational Therapy Month, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and National Cancer Control Month, to name a slight few.)

 

Why is there no National Vaginal Birth Month? Oh, wait, that’s every month.

 

c section vs natural
Who cares?

 

Childbirth is so many things, the contractions, driving to the hospital for a planned C-section, laboring intensely for 30 hours, the epidural, and the water bath or shower.  For some, it’s the professional pictures, while others; it’s letting your husband know that if he snaps a photo of you right at that moment you will start using extreme profanity… again.  It’s simultaneously agonizing, shockingly painful, and incredibly blissful.  You grew a baby… inside of you!!!!  You waited, wondered, and anticipated for nine (really 10) months, and here it comes!!!!

 

I want to revere all women who give birth.  You have a baby in your tummy one minute, and then in a split second it’s here forever.  However it got into that world, it’s yours for all of eternity.

If it’s your first child, you’re amazed at this suddenly new euphoric feeling called ‘parenting’.  You have waited so long to meet the person that developed right on the other side of your skin that that is all you can focus on.  If you’re having anything other then a first kid, you’re all, yeah yeah, it’s here, now take him down to the nursery so I can get my one last night of sleep… EVER!  But never among the multitude of other feelings a new mama has, she the thought of being a “failure” or a “wuss” be crossing your mind because you just had a c-section.

 

Whatever you have gone through- from the empowering more incredible births to the difficult and traumatizing labors, the bottom line is, you are now a parent for the foreseeable future and pretty much all of eternity.  Why would anyone care, let alone, ever have anything to say on how exactly that baby came into this world?

 

I learned in my birthing class to always ask if the doctor could give you a few more minutes if they started suggesting a Cesarean section.  I remember the answer clearly, despite being on hour nine of Pitocin and an epidural that refused to work. I was well aware of the discussion behind me.  The answer was simple, clear, emergent, yet not highly alarmed, “We can’t really take another minute.”

There was not a debate; this wasn’t a choice, a discussion, or coercion, it was just what had to happen.  The baby’s heart rate had started to decrease dramatically and mine remained exactly the same.  Also take into account the fact that, in a hurried fashion I have come to embrace, I randomly (finally!) dilated from 1/2 cm to 6cm in a mere 20 min, and if the doctor moved the baby inside of me, his heart rate would go back up.   Apparently, to a highly trained professional, it was pretty clear that the baby was in distress and needed to come out immediately.

 

So there I was, in the OR pretty quickly after that, feeling the pinch test.  This is the moment when the anesthesiologist who is about to remove any and all feeling from the portion of your body that they are going to basically cut in two asks you if you can feel him touch your abdomen with a knife, “Can you feel that?”

 

“Uh, yeah, I feel that!”

 

Then that question again, “Doc, can I have two minutes, please?”

 

“I’ll give you thirty seconds starting right now.”

 

I’ll tell you, whatever he did; I didn’t feel my legs for a good 12 hours after that.  At my second, planned, c-section, I was actually shocked when about 45 minutes later my toes started to return.  Hadn’t it been longer last time?

 

A couple of minutes later my husband was commenting on how he shouldn’t have peeked over the draping because he’s pretty sure he just noticed that someone was holding one of my organs, there was a lot of pressure, and out came my son, chord wrapped around his neck and his body.  His eyes were open; he was perfect. Apgar scores, two actual 10’s.

 

manborn
About 30 min post section.

He was here and he was alive, and safe.  If it had been a choice, and I had chosen to wait, who knows if the same would be true.

 

Sometimes, women give birth naturally in a tub in their home.  Sometimes, women deliver babies vaginally, having had an epidural.  Sometimes babies are born in elevators, or via C-section, or to a surrogate, or crazy “I didn’t even know I was pregnant” style.

It doesn’t matter how someone else’s baby gets into the world.  Moreover, it’s none of your business.

 

I understand where many of the thoughts and questions come from.  Did I feel like I missed out on childbirth?  After nine hours of Pitocin induced labor without an epidural, I have definitely wondered from time to time, if I could handle natural childbirth.  Ultimately, I don’t have the luxury of wondering for too long.  My child was no longer safe in my womb, and the fastest, most secure way was to remove him via C-section.  Guess what, I elected to have my second Cesarean because my children were born 18 months apart. It was my choice.  I know others that made different choices and had incredibly wonderful vaginal birthing experiences.  That was their choice.

 

There is this idea of how it is all supposed to go down.  Most of the time, it doesn’t go quite as planned.  You’re in an incredibly vulnerable state, both emotionally and physically, and your doctor begins to suggest an alternative to continuing labor and opting for a C-section.  You make that call based on the information he is presenting to you and you make it for the health and safety of the baby and the mommy.

 

My answer, for all of the other random cesarean related inquiries moms tend to get, is simply, no.   I don’t feel like I missed out on anything.  It most certainly wasn’t the easiest way out.  I am not scarred forever (sometimes I actually have to search for the scar).  And yes, my baby is OK, because of the C-section.

If we are going to bring awareness to non-vaginal birthing methods this month, let it be for the women who experienced difficult, extraordinarily painful sections.  But mostly, let’s just congratulate each other as moms. We did something only our sex can do; we grew and birthed another living being.  C’mon, isn’t that enough for all of us?

 

The Parenting Advice I Regret Not Taking

She turns four in a few days.  My younger child, my little Lady, will be four.  Every year another birthday comes, she grows a bit older and for a fleeting moment, I’m sad.  Then that moment passes as I quietly run the mental list of milestones met that year -milestones towards independence, both hers and mine.

family of four
The completion of my little family

This year, however, this fourth year, I’m quite despondent.  My brain is smart enough to recognize that I don’t want any more children; that I already have my hands full with the ones I’ve got.  My uterus, however, is screaming in agony, “I’m ready when you are!!  There are plenty of babies I can still carry.”  My heart falls somewhere in the middle, longing for that wonderful feeling that comes with bringing new a life into the world, while simultaneously, becoming tachycardic at the thought of the effort that takes.

 

I have read about this feeling before, the despondence mothers can settle into when the realization that the pregnancy and baby chapter of their lives is forever shut.  I never understood it until now.  My lifelong dream was fulfilled when I became a mother, so, yes; it is heartbreaking to think that I will never again experience the euphoria of holding my new baby for the first time.

milliemommy
No feeling compares to holding that newborn!

If I allow myself to admit my true feelings, some of this devastation comes from the understanding that I missed out in some ways.  Almost everyone was spewing advice when I became a new mom, but one sentiment was unanimously spoken: enjoy every minute of it, it goes by so quickly.

 

I will admit, after hearing that three or four times, it became all I could do not to punch someone when they said it.  What the fuck were they talking about?  Man just disconnected the cable for the third time today, Lady refuses to nap, both of them are teething and will not stop fussing, and I am a prisoner in my own home, a prisoner to my babies!!!  How could I possibly enjoy this?  I just want to move through this phase of their lives and get to the smooth road ahead and all these dumb-asses want to tell me is to enjoy it because I’ll miss it when it’s over!  Idiots…

 

Well, those idiots were right!  I do miss it!  These two little people had made me a mother, something I had always wanted.  Of course, a simple smile or giggle could melt my heart.  As they learned to roll over, sit up, crawl, walk, and run, my heart (and body) leapt with joy as I recorded their accomplishments.  They called me mama, and told me they loved me even if I put them in silly outfits or hadn’t changed their diapers in a timely manner.  They made me into an entirely new person; this is a gift no others could give. Yet, somehow, at times, I let a shadow settle over that knowledge.  In those moments, I was often so tired, frustrated, scared, confused, frazzled, and hormonal that I didn’t stop to recognize that in addition to that, they brought me more joy then I had ever known.

 

A friend of mine recently had her third baby (D!).  In that last week of her pregnancy, I felt compelled to tell her one thing- enjoy these last moments of pregnancy, for they are truly your last.  You’re tired and ready to get the show on the road, naturally.  At this time especially, don’t forget to take pleasure in feeling him kick, knowing that it’s just the two of you for only a few more moments.  Take as much pleasure from these last moments of him being inside, as you will take from a lifetime of him being on the outside.  Make sure to celebrate these last days of pregnancy, ever.

 

So, new moms, I will do the same for you, as I am no exception to the endless list of people who want to bombard you with advice.  I will say what wise women told me- enjoy it!  Yes, yes, I too have drunk the Kool-Aid, but I’m going to go one step further and let you know how hard it is to actually follow this advice.

 

No one tells you how challenging becoming a new parent truly is.  It’s supposed to be all rainbows and sparkles, bull shit.  It’s hard and there are going to be a lot of moments when you wonder why in the hell you encouraged your husband to come near you with his sperm.  It’s those moments that you have to learn to benefit from.  The coos and goos, giggles and smiles — that’s the easy part.  Revere those moments, for they will get you through the harder ones.  During more complicated times, when you’re exhausted, cranky, frustrated, confused, sad, and even unhappy, you must allow yourself the comfort of those feelings.  It’s supposed to be hard; it’s hard for every mom.  You are weeping the same tears of madness that thousands of other moms across the globe are shedding at that exact same moment.  It’s only natural to love your new role as mom, but it’s also completely natural to not enjoy every moment at all times.  Remind yourself that for every perfect day of parenting you might have three days of horror that follow – and so does the mom next door.

 

The more challenging moments of parenting

 

Without those harder moments, the breathtaking ones would merely be sort of “meh”.  Happy times are even more joyous after you have seen how tough it can be as well.   As you move into becoming the parents of “young children,” it’s both the most incredible and the hardest moments that got you there.

 

We love you, daddy!
Suddenly, you have a beautiful family of four to enjoy!

Don’t Judge A Blog By It’s Title

As a mom blogger, I, of course follow fellow mom bloggers.  Today, one that I call a personal friend was attacked solely on the name of her blog, Next Life, NO Kids http://www.nextlifenokids.com/.  Another mom, a stranger, took it upon herself to post a nasty and inappropriate comment on the blog’s FB page.  The comment boiled down to this; if she could use such a horrendous title, a “child shaming” title for her personal blog, then she is clearly an unfit mother who should not have children.

 

Now, if this random stranger had taken the time to actually read any of the blog posts, or memes or FB posts, it would have been evident that not only is this NOT accurate, but the exact opposite is true.  This blogger dedicates her blog to the #mommitment, a movement to end mom shaming between fellow moms.

mommitment 2
End mom judging

Her followers immediately came to her defense.  The author of the nasty post responded by saying that child shaming should never be tolerated and that we, other mothers, were what was wrong with the parenting community and the country today.

 

Yes, when you open yourself up personally by writing and sharing with the masses on social media; you are going to get some flack. It’s just to be expected.  However, when you take a snapshot of a person, or their blog title in this case, and make an inaccurate, quick assumption that calls this person’s parenting into question, it’s just downright wrong.

 

I too heard something today.  A rumor about me that was both horrid, and untrue.  A person took a small assumption or tidbit of information from wherever and crafted an entirely false story around it.  This was a downright hurtful story, not only to me, but to my family.  This one tiny assumption, crafted into a larger story, was told to others as a truth.  One small kernel of data, suddenly grew into one large boulder of a lie.

 

People always ask me why I get so upset by what some silly stranger in FB land says about children with ADHD.  I’m most often offended when I see people say that it doesn’t exist and/or that it is caused by bad, lazy parenting.  Well, this is why.  It is so easy to see my son in all of his tantrum glory, while I just stand there and try to ignore it and assume that I’m a crappy parent.  I see the looks from other moms when my little guy performs the same inappropriate act over and over and over again no matter what I say or do.  The looks that say, “Only a terrible parent can have so little control over her child.”  I see the glances and the side talk when all of the other children are participating and my lovely boy is busy using the soccer net as a climbing wall.  Looks that scream, “How is he ever going to learn if you don’t teach him how to play?  She is soooooooo lazy!”  I even had moms ask me how I could send my child to Kindergarten when he was clearly not ready.  How would you even begin to know if he was ready or not?  You see us in the pre-school hallway for a minute at drop off and a minute at pick up and you are ready to make a serious judgment call based on that alone.

 

These are assumptions that call my parenting skills into question.  Assumptions that are made from a 30 second snapshot into my life.  Assumptions, that if you took the time to see, you would know were false.  I am a competent and wonderful parent; facts that you could never know about any parent just by looking at them for 30 seconds.  Just like a snap judgment of my blogging friend’s right to have children are called into question simply from the name of her blog.    If you took the time to look further, you would see that Next Life, NO Kids, is the embodiment of her #mommitment, to end mom judging for good.  But no, you couldn’t get past the title before calling her an unfit parent.

 

I know it’s so much easier to make a quick call, a quick verdict based on a single episode.  It’s the way have been brought up, go go go, get it done, don’t waste any time.  However, when it comes to learning about people, and calling their character into question, it is imperative to go beyond the 30 seconds and really take time before making a genuine and accurate conclusion.  I read a FB meme once, and in summation, it said something of this nature, “I got my little sister and I up and dressed in the dark because the electricity had been turned off.  I got us to school in time for early the early breakfast because there was nothing in the fridge.  I made sure she was in class on time before going to my school.  When I didn’t have a pencil, the teacher gave me detention because I was unprepared.”

 

It’s time to learn to go beyond just looking, but to start truly seeing each other.  To understand that the pencil was irrelevant, what she had already done that day was incredible.  Stop mom judging, stop people judging, start being human.

 

mommitment