Dear Instagram Mom

Sometimes I feel like my blog is misstitled. Like I feel almost as though it should be something birth control oriented because I talk about miscarriage and the hardships of parenthood, not the rosy aspects of raising kids. Seriously though, children are an absolute joy and my life would be so incomplete without them, but I would be dishonest if I told you they don’t drive me batshit crazy sometimes (sorry for my “french” mom…).

Today, for example. I have coffee every Friday with two women who are phenomenal. We get together over the roar of our kids playing/crying/nursing, and we intentionally talk about real things. One lesson you must learn as a mom, you don’t have time to shoot the breeze. You get to it, or get off the pot. I’ve always hated small talk, so this aspect of motherhood is one I fully embrace and quite enjoy.

So today my friend and I were discussing life, as per usual. And it came into my head that the woman we were lamenting about was the typical “Instagram mom.” You know who I mean. The one who Pinterests crafts and documents it. Who has a rocking body, despite an infinite amount of children/breastfeeding, and goes on weekly dates with her husband in which they are never tired, or just wanting to sit on the couch and sleep. She finds joy in every mother-f-ing second spent with her kids. She’s a DIY queen, and her home is always clean and in the best Joanna Gaines state.

Dear Instagram mom, do you exist for real? Dear Instagram mom who puts on the front– WHY?!? You are only causing SO MUCH STRESS for the rest of your peers. I’ve got wrinkles and stretch marks from my babies. Yeah, I try to work out once in a while, but most of the time I have to pick something that can be easily interrupted because I’ve got a four year old and one year old crawling all over me. For goodness sakes, I went to poop today and decided to close the door (God forbid) and opened it to find my four year old crying because he couldn’t find me. Seriously?

But my real questions are, when, dear IG mom, do you find time to shop/wear/keep clean the clothes that you have that are not only trendy but functional? What does your husband do that you can afford a $95 baby carseat cover that doubles as a nursing cover that the rest of us schmucks have to use a regular blanket for? How did you “just wake up like that” not covered in spit up or yogurt, or dried milk? How did you get your hair done just so? Where do you find your infinite drive and energy? And how are you and your husband so bright-eyed looking in your weekly date night pictures? How do you get a weekly date night? How are you not just wilting on the couch? WTF?!? Dear IG mom, please do not keep your secrets from the rest of us. Share them. Write them down and publish them for the world to read. I would gladly pay money to find out the secrets of your ways. Also, if this is just a front for your social media audience, I beg you, please stop it.

Sincerely,

Regular mom.

 

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You live how far from home?!?

Before I write this out, let me address the big issue: Kyle and I CHOSE this. We could have easily (and still could) lived closely to our families. But we decided not to. Why? Because, “the mountains were calling and we must go.” But for real. The beauty of the Pacific Northwest has few rivals. We were young, Judah was young, and so we went. We love life here, but it is hard. Why? Because we have children under the age of five and we are what I like to call a “single-parent family.”

I define this term as a family unit that is alone. One without close by aunts, uncles, and grandparents. “Close” meaning within a day’s drive with kids, so less than 10 hours away. If you can raise a hand to that, solidarity.

Let’s review some pros and cons of this decision.

Pros:

  • We get our kids all to ourselves during their baby years.
  • There is one constant enforcement all the time. There is no, “well at Aunt so-in-so’s or at grandma’s we…” It’s just here. It’s our rules or the highway, and in these formative years, that ‘s pretty irreplaceable.
  • We do what we want when we want. There are no obligations, ever.
  • We have chosen specific people to be our family. Family is assigned, you cannot choose it, but since our move, we have been able to fill in with people who we love. This is a privilege that is known to few.
  • Our marriage goes through it all together and because of this, we are strong. I love my husband with a fierceness I have never known before. He is our family’s rock. He is my rock. He provides. He aides me. There is no “we’re at the grandparent’s for the day so Imma sleep on the couch.” He makes memories with our kids. He helps me out. He is involved. I think the world of him, and so do our kids. There is nothing we could do without him.

Cons:

  • There is no “can you take my kids for an hour so I can______?” You know what we get? Deal with it. Bedtime is at 7:30, you better last until then.
  • Dates are few and far between. We get one this coming Friday thanks to some friends, but the last time we got one was over a month ago when those same friends offered to take our babies for a few hours.
  • When we are at our wit’s end, we either pass the kids along to our spouse to single parent, driving them to their wit’s end, or we push through.
  • Neither of us gets things done after the kids are in bed. Because we don’t get dates, this is our sacred “together” time. I refuse to clean, do laundry, work on anything other than time with my husband during the few hours we have after our kids are asleep.
  • My kids have a minimal relationship with their extended family. Grandparent’s day at school is my worst nightmare. We have friends that have willingly filled in, but I still remember my own grandparent’s day as a 29, almost 30 year old woman. It’s pretty traumatic. PTL this year’s was cancelled due to snow.
  • I haven’t met my niece and she’s 2. Lennon hasn’t met her aunt and uncle and cousins and she’s almost 1 1/2. This alone makes me cry. I missed out on holding my newborn niece because we live over 50 hours apart. I’ve always dreamed of being  the aunt to take my nieces out for the day, but I can’t. That’s not in my cards. I have one who is a teenager now, and I would die to go to the movies and talk boys and clothes and writing with her, but I can’t. I love each of them so much, but they will never really know, because I am not there to cultivate that bond with them.
  • We can’t have our nieces and nephews over to play. We can’t be there when they play basketball games, accomplish something academically, or are dedicated at church.
  • Vice versa. We dedicated Lennon at church last year, and there were no blood family members present.
  • We can’t share happy things, like the purchase of our first home, with our siblings.
  • Visits are expensive. We can’t go on vacations together as a family of four because we prioritize visiting our extended families who are far away. Thankfully, where we live is magical and allows for awesome memories on its own, but still–we do have a drastically long rainy season where we are stuck indoors.
  • We sacrifice sleep…a lot. Lennon still won’t sleep through the night and is not a good napper. Kyle and I are both introverts and thrive on occasional alone time. I typically need three cups of coffee a day to feel normal. Kyle has sacrificed sleep to gain alone time to refuel. This is what we do.
  • We don’t get to prioritize our marriage. Discussions and tension has to wait until our kids are tended to because we are all we have. Yes, it does make us closer, but also it does make for some extended trying times.
  • It’s lonely.

Yes, the pros are few and the con’s are a lot. But at the same time, this is where our family thrives, believe it or not. This season of difficulty in parenting is brief, and it is our hope that because of this season, our family unit is solid .

My parents raised my sister and I away from family. We were okay. My mom and dad always encouraged my sister and I to go where we were happiest, where God led us. They trusted us, they went before us in this type of season, and it was alright. It is because of their example that I know everything will be okay. It is because of this that I know no matter the distance, the bond I have with them is unbreakable.

So, parents out there who complain after a hard day or difficult week, remember, you could live 38 hours away from your nearest relative. Think of those who do. Think of those who don’t have the luxury of a monthly or weekly date night. Think of us who don’t get to go grocery shopping alone. Think of others who crave a hug from their mom’s from time to time, but just can’t have it. Yes, we chose it. Yes, ultimately we love it, but no, it doesn’t make it easy.

**Editor’s note** I am not asking for help. Again, we have chosen this. I’m simply asking you to review your perspective. We wouldn’t trade our position, I’m simply wanting to be heard that some days are hard and also to let you know, I’m not the mom friend to talk to about not having breaks.

Seasons.

 

We are reading a book in my mom’s group about seasons of life. I’ll let you guess which one I’m in.

This is what my bedroom looks like:

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I went to an interview for a part time job last week with strawberry juice plastered across my boobs. My shirt was white. Not awesome. Also, the interview was for a 16 hour a week job, and the lady talked to me for two and a half hours. Serious red flags.

I risked it and tried to shower today while my baby girl was awake. I pulled tons of toys into the room to occupy her. It did not end well:

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I haven’t slept through the night since last May. Lennon has fluid in her eardrums and needs to be repositioned frequently throughout the night to relieve the pressure. She was supposed to have tubes put in her ears yesterday, but thanks to insurance, we don’t have a date scheduled until mid-February. (But there is a date!)

I went to switch over the seventh load of laundry (yes, seventh) I’ve done since yesterday morning and came back to find out that Lennon can now maneuver through her high chair buckles. I found her standing up trying to climb onto the kitchen island. Duly noted.

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I also sat with my beautiful boy while he ate lunch. What’s wrong with that? We literally (and yes I am using that word correctly right now) sat at the kitchen island for 45 minutes so he could eat four chicken nuggets. Not because he was refusing, just because he eats like a sloth. I love him dearly, but come on, man.

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I’m on my third cup of coffee today, one being an espresso drink, and I still feel like I could close my eyes right now and sleep until tomorrow afternoon.

Also, the former host of Celebrity Apprentice is becoming the President of the United States tomorrow. I’m still waiting for someone to pop out of the woodwork and be like, “April fools a little early, America!”

I’m ready for Spring. Anyone else?

 

 

Dear Bethany,

It’s okay.

It’s okay that your dishes from four days ago are still in the sink.  The ones in the dishwasher are clean, and we all know you’ll get to them eventually. You have not one, but two dirty crockpots? No problem. At least you used them at some point.

It’s totally fine that you haven’t dusted in a while. Little children are still running in and out of your house, so even if you did, no one would notice anyway. Don’t worry about the fact that you haven’t done you or your husband’s laundry in so long that he had to wear old underwear to work. He rallies for you and is proud that at least the kids have clean clothes.

And speaking of your awesome husband, it’s no big deal that you haven’t shaved your legs in a significantly long time. He’s also cool with it that you didn’t get the opportunity to shower today because your schedule and children were both slightly crazy. He’s watched you birth babies, and still finds you sexy. Honestly, there’s not really too much beyond that which will make you physically unattractive to him.

It’s not the end of the world that your child, after over a year of efforts, still will not always poop when he has to. This too, shall pass. Don’t stress over the amount of times you have to say, “stop making fart sounds,” “no, we are not talking about poop right now,” or “for the love, put your shoes on!”

You had canned soup for dinner last night? No big deal. A little processed crap never hurt anybody. At least you saved $20 and opted out on going through the McDonald’s drive through for the 85th time this year.

Don’t feel bad that you forgot to pack diapers for your daughter today when you dropped her off in the nursery and she ended up needing a diaper change and had to be put in a diaper much to small for all that junk inside that trunk. She survived, and the nursery workers have extra diapers just for moms like you.

You’re doing great. You’ve got this. Mom power and all that hoopla to you. Because you know what? Sometimes the stars align, your baby takes a long nap, your oldest is actually quiet during “quiet time,” and you get to clean your kitchen and listen to Kaleo at the same time. And, after that the heavens open and it’s 65 and sunny on an Oregon November day and you can get outside with your littles and rake the entire backyard with a 20 pound baby on your back. And despite being hit with a rake over a dozen times by a certain four year old who is very slowly learning spacial awareness, you got the entire yard raked and your kids got some precious vitamin D. Then, your babies entertain one another long enough for you to punch out this letter to yourself.

Don’t worry, mama. If you don’t get it done today, it will be waiting tomorrow, or the next day, or even the day after that.

You are capable.

Sincerely,

Yourself.

 

Another baby? It’s complicated.

It’s my “blog-aversary” I guess. So says WordPress. Four years ago I started this baby….and wow does time fly. Four years ago I started this blog as a rant of the struggles of first-time motherhood. And now that little baby I was talking about is four. He knows how to write his name. He knows the alphabet and he can count to 100. That little baby is also a fantastic big brother and says the funniest and craziest things. It’s nuts how life works out and flies by all at once.

I’ve been in kind of a funk these days. I know I talk about my miscarriages often, and many of you who read this blog may be tired of hearing about it. I apologize, and want to kindly remind you that you don’t have to read what I write, it doesn’t bother me one way or another. But be warned, this blog does touch on my unborn babies.

I have begun the process of writing a book I once dreamed about. Both my husband and the readers of this blog have encouraged me to push forward and make that dream a reality. Though it won’t be remotely written for many years, it is in the works.  Writing on this topic has been something I have been passionate about. Miscarriage and the loss with it has been so taboo in our culture and I’m tired of it, and so are the other mothers out there who have experienced it. It’s just time to talk about it and not in a “everything-works-out” kind of way. It’s time that miscarriage is recognized as the anger and grief inducing tragedy that it is. It should be called out for what it is: a life altering, never the same again, event.

But, that is only part of what is on my mind today. Really, what my mind is mulling over is whether or not to have another baby. I want another baby. I crave it. I hated being pregnant with Lennon, but in the long run, it’s so worth it. But honestly, I am petrified. The condition I have, which presumably caused my previous miscarriages, only worsens with age, so each day that passes, each moment, increases my chance of miscarrying all the more. And honestly, I don’t know if I can mentally and emotionally handle the possibility of losing another baby.

Recently, my husband and I have started a small group within our church dedicated to the common bond of miscarriage. Because of this and the start of this book, I have been dwelling on and reliving my experiences more graphically than  usual on a daily basis. It does a number on one’s emotional state. I typically think of my lost children at least once a day, but lately, I have been graphically re-living every detail of their loss.

I have been trying so hard to soak in the moments with my four year old and treasure the fleeting moments of babyhood with my sweet Lennon. But always in the back of my mind is the craving of another child, and the reminder of those I have lost. It’s a tough place to find myself.

I tried to fool myself into saying I was done after two living babies. I have a beautiful boy and the most awesome girl. Perfect, right? But I crave another. A few weeks ago, I held a friend’s sweet newborn baby and was so happy to give her back once she cried, but now–now I long for that moment when you hold a new baby for the first time. I want to hear those sweet and unforgettable newborn cries. I want that first look into each other’s eyes. I want to mother another child. But I’m scared of the journey to get there. My heart cannot take another loss. My heart can hardly manage another pregnancy. The mere thought makes my stomach churn and my eyes tear up.

Pregnancy is a complete crap-shoot. You don’t ever know until the moment that beautiful, pink, screaming baby is placed in your arms, that everything will be okay. And there in lies the risk.

This is where I am, folks. Truly caught between a rock and a hard place. And seriously hoping time will tell.

The Trenches

“You’re in the trenches.” I’ve heard this phrase many times in the last year, and I’ve not really known what to make of it until recently. It is typically used to refer to parents who have multiples under the age … Continue reading

Dear Second Child

My mom didn’t make my baby book until I asked for one for my 12th birthday. I always thought, “how could she not make me a baby book?” Not to mention there was this cross stitch picture she made for my sister, amongst other things.

Mom, I get it now. And thank you for making me one for my 12th birthday.

Dear Second Child,

I love you just as much as your older sibling. I promise I do. Yes, I did a baby book for your brother’s first year of life, carefully and joyfully documenting each month and putting it together in a beautiful album. Yes, you are five months old now, and no, I have not purchased your album yet. But rest assured, I’ve got all your important moments documented in my Instagram account. Yep…

Yes, we have video footage of your brother’s developmental milestones. And, to be fair, we do have attempts at yours…they are just marred by a certain three year old waving his hands in front of the camera or crazily chatting over your precious cooing sounds.

No, I did not have your crib bedding specially made. I got you a blanket at Babies R Us and used the rest of your brother’s old hand me down bedding.

Yes, most of your clothes (okay, all of your clothes) are freebies because I realize now that babies grow so fast and I’m not wasting my money on brand new outfits that you will wear for approximately five minutes. Don’t worry, if you’re anything like me, we will make up for lost new outfits later in life.

Yes, I cloth diapered your brother’s little baby bottom, but honey–ain’t nobody got time for that amount of laundry these days. Disposable diapers have served you well and will continue to do so.

I often let your brother nap in my arms as much as possible. I’m afraid I don’t have that luxury with you. You see, the longer I hold you, the more I risk you being woken up by a certain three almost four year old who is bashing his cars and Hulk smashing everything. I save a little extra snuggle time for you every night before I put you to bed for two reasons. One, because I love to have that time just you and I (and daddy is home to help keep child number one under control ;)) and two, because I often fall asleep right along with you out of sheer exhaustion.

We have made it a point to write letters to both you and your brother to give to you when you’re older. You do have some…just not as many. We will catch up, I promise.

Oh second child, my love for you is not any less than it is for your brother. It’s just that your brother doesn’t nap, and you don’t sleep at night, so it’s all I can do to make sure everyone is clothed, fed, and safe. This too shall pass, and hopefully by the time you are 12, I will have purchased your baby album.

Don’t take it personally. Someday if you have babies of your own, you will understand, much like I am now understanding. I love you deeply, and you have completed our family in the best way possible. And I promise you, I will print photos of you soon. At least by the time you’re old enough to know whether or not there are pictures of you on the wall. IMG_0778

 

 

 

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Brotherly Love.

Every parent wants their children to get along, or better yet, to actually love each other. This afternoon, I got to witness it on a new level and trust me, when you see it–magic.

Lennon had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon to get some vaccinations.* I have never cried when either of my kids have gotten a shot until today. I feel they are a necessary evil, and both Judah and Lennon have already experienced other situations that have been much more difficult to observe than a quick shot.

However, today’s event was different. Lennon flexed her leg muscle during the injection, which caused it to be much more painful and traumatizing than normal. A bit of blood was shed and many, many baby tears and screams followed. Of course, the nurse felt horrible, but these things sometimes occur. So there we both were trying to comfort this poor little baby to no avail. When our nurse finished up and left the room, I turned to Judah to make sure he was ready to get going. I will never forget this moment.

Instead of finding him occupying himself spinning around on the doctor’s stool, which he typically does during these visits, he was standing, shell-shocked, tears streaming down his face. He looked at me with such an intensely worried expression and whispered softly, “Mommy, is Lennon going to be okay?”

Bam. My tear ducts started flowing uncontrollably. I know in that moment I should have tried to hold them in and put on a brave face for my kiddo, but when you experience the love that your firstborn has for his sibling, it’s game over. I mean, I know Judah loves his sister, but this was more than a happy greeting in the morning, or a kiss goodnight kind of love. Here was my little boy, visibly distraught over the state of his sister, wanting nothing more than to make sure she was okay and comforted.

I reassured him that she was going to be fine and that sometimes these things hurt, but we always get better. I told him that Lennon needed us to be brave for her, and that we would just spend the afternoon snuggling her up and making sure she knew everything was okay. I hugged him tight and said, “It’s hard to watch someone you love experience hurt isn’t it?” He gave several vigorous nods. As I wiped his tears and saw the genuine affection he had for his baby sister, my heart felt like it was going to explode.

We gathered up our things and headed for the car, all three of us covered in tears. It was the worst and best vaccination day ever.

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*This post is not about opinions on vaccinating your kids. Everyone has them, including myself, but I don’t really want to hear them. At the end of the day, the decision is yours as a parent on what you want to do, and you are the one who knows best for your particular child. Let’s leave it there. 

So…what do you do all day?

This is a question that I, as a stay at home parent have been asked before. Seriously. And yes, the person who asked it did leave my presence with their head attached to their body by the grace of God. … Continue reading