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.

 

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

Fall Things

My last posts have been kind of heavy and have caused some controversy, SO….let me just say, I’m sorry if I offend anyone with what I write on here. But at the same time I’m not. This is my little internet space to express my thoughts, and to honestly keep it real. There is too much out there that is fake or “just the highlights” that it can be a little discouraging when you look at your own life and realize you’re not “keeping up with the Jones'” as much as you hoped (and no, I’m not referring to my sister and her family 😉 ). When I started this blog, it was a place for me to be real, to not sugar coat things, and to celebrate both the highs and the lows. Right now, my family is in a bit of a valley, but that’s okay. They happen, it’s a part of life, and I think the valleys only add to the highlights in the end.

So, just know going forward that I normally filter myself quite a bit in my every day life, but this is my one space that I simply don’t. And, right now, I’ve seen far more good come from it than bad, so my blog will continue.

However, because my last posts have been a little gloomy, I thought I’d reassure my readers that we are in fact enjoying many aspects of life. And we are especially soaking up this Fall season. Isn’t Fall just the best? We’ve been lucky to participate in so many Fallish activities this year and I thought I’d share some photos with you all.

Apple Picking

Judah and I got to sneak away and do some apple picking at our favorite little orchard. Judah ate about ten apples while we were there, and we ended up leaving with five gallons. It was the perfect amount for canning a few quarts of apple sauce, making a couple pies, whipping up some apple cinnamon french toast, and of course eating the extras with peanut butter and honey.

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We’ve also managed to enjoy some time with friends. Though Fall is often busy, we’ve been lucky enough to snag a few moments with some of the people (both big and small) that we love so much. Needless to say, the imaginations have been running wild and always…safety first 😉

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The weather has been so nice here this season. We have been able to still reap some warmth from the summer sun, but our mornings usually start out nice and brisk and our evenings end with a great chill in the air. It’s wonderful to still be able to play outdoors and not feel like we’re melting into a puddle.

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Who doesn’t love a fresh Fall haircut? I’m practicing my hand at the DIY haircut and was pretty proud of myself for pulling off a semi-decent at home do for my kiddo.

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We also celebrated our favorite man’s 30th birthday!! We have a tradition, stollen by Kelle Hampton, where Judah gets a set amount of money and can choose whatever he wants to gift his dad with each year. I love the idea of giving him the choice to decide what he thinks Kyle will enjoy most. Right now it’s pretty toy oriented, but it’s fun to see the extra thought he puts into things as the years progress. This year’s loot included two light sabres, a monster truck, and play dough.

We also had our annual visit to the pumpkin patch this past weekend. And…as I was going through my photos I realized I didn’t take any of Judah actually in the pumpkin patch…woops! But, we did leave with four killer pumpkins which are sitting outside our front door.

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We’ve also gotten Judah’s “big boy room” finished and are almost done with baby girl’s nursery, which will be coming up in a future post.

I hope you and your families are enjoying this Fall season! After all, it’s the start of the most wonderful time of the year 🙂

The Red House

So, a few weeks ago, we bought ourselves a house. Judah calls it “the red house.” It’s a bit of a project, but it’s in a great neighborhood where quite frankly, we couldn’t afford anything but a little project. And, our family is a little quirky, so it suits us well.

After seven moves in five years, a house is oh so welcome. We haven’t gotten everything finished…obviously…but we were able to make a few updates to the house prior to moving in, thanks to a connection to the seller. (You rock, Charles!)

But before we get to the photos, I have some people to thank for our first huge adult purchase. It’s never easy to move, but it’s especially hard when you don’t have family close by to help out. Thank goodness for great friends, right? So, thank you to Kyle’s parents for making it even possible, to the Geer family for never hesitating to watch Judah, help us paint, assist with moving, and clearing out all our boxes, to Alex and Harvey for always letting Judah come over to play while we were taking care of the house, and to Charles for thinking of us for our home and answering all of our questions no matter what day of the week.

Okay, here’s the first set of pictures. And my apologies, you have to deal with really crappy iphone pictures. We still have some work to go, but this is the first room in our house that is almost near completion.

This is our living room/ dining room before:

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It was a hard call, but we decided to purchase the house minus those creepy dolls by the door. I know…I’m already experiencing some buyers remorse about it.

Charming huh? Here’s what we did:

Replaced the carpet with a laminent floor, removed the wood stove, painted the room a light blue/grey.

Here’s the after:

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Sorry, my panorama skills are clearly not up to par.

 

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Still to go in this room are a wall decor like a photo wall (behind the Christmas tree), painted dining room chairs, and curtains. I think it’s a pretty good transformation so far though.

Stay tuned for more renovations to come…although they will be much later…our budget is pretty tapped for the time being, if you know what I mean.

Oh, and we also added this gem. Meet Lucy. She’s a German Shepherd/Lab mix, and Judah is (mostly) over the moon about her. However, she just pooped all over the bathroom floor, so she’s lucky we haven’t renovated that space yet 😉

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Rough Stuff

Let me start out by making a few things clear. I am not starting this blog to seek advice. I have heard more advice and “you should’s” to last a lifetime. This blog is a place for me to speak my thoughts, perhaps to share some commonality with other young mothers who are going through the same things, and to just provide a healthy outlet for myself. Secondly, and most importantly, I love my son more than anything. There is no way to describe with words the way I cherish his life, his well being, and his happiness. He is the best thing that my husband and I have ever done, and I would do anything for him.

Being a mom is hard. It is the hardest thing ever. Being a mom of a baby with colic is almost unbearable. You go through bouts of screaming for hours and hours on end with no consolation. The only thing that keeps you sane is that 10 minutes of time when your baby is happy and content. You get a glimpse of that sweet, loving personality that is hiding behind the tears that seem insurmountable some days. Those 10 minutes are what keep me going. Those 10 minutes are priceless. That and knowing what time my husband will be home to relieve me for 5 minutes. Single parents out there, MAJOR props to you.

I have tried everything to relieve Judah’s colic; I mean everything.  My husband and I have even recently purchased those amber beads that you put on your baby’s ankle. Typically they are used for teething, but they are also supposed to work to help reduce colic. They have seemed to help with his gas pains a bit, so I would recommend them. We got ours here.  Judah is 3 months old now, and from everything I’ve read, most babies with colic begin to start coming into their own between 3 and 4 months. I am sure hoping we are coming into the home stretch with this, although I’m convinced we have a boy who defies all the odds, just to be stubborn. You will hear more about that when I write his birth story.

Not only does Judah have colic, but he has a dairy allergy. Being a breastfed baby, that means no dairy for mama. No more ice cream, lattes, milk and cookies, all that good stuff. Okay, that kind of stinks, but if it’s going to be best for my boy, I’m okay with cutting that stuff out, no matter how much I want a chocolate milk shake at the end of a rough day. Along with the dairy allergy, he also has reflux. I feed him as upright as I can, avoid laying him down shortly after meals, and burp him frequently. With the reflux comes the side affect of ear infections. Because of this, my poor boy has already been through 2 rounds of antibiotics and has been pumped with Tylenol. It makes me cringe to think of the amounts of medication that have already entered my little boy’s tiny body. Me, the mom who is taking the slow route of vaccines, who was so against anything foreign in such a small, still growing system, is forcing Tylenol and antibiotics down her baby’s throat with a syringe. I hate it.

Sure, when I was pregnant I heard that motherhood was tough, but I never in my wildest dreams expected this. Again, let me emphasize, I adore my baby boy to pieces and would go through all of this again just for him. That doesn’t mean it isn’t unbearably hard at times and that some days just really suck.  Yes, people tell you to be sure that you want to have kids because your life changes forever, but they don’t go into much detail past the obvious things like they are expensive and going out isn’t always as easy, and you lose some sleep. Okay, no biggie. I’ve accepted that some days I have to choose between shaving my legs and brushing my teeth. I go to the grocery store with ragged hair and bags under my eyes, and have yet to return to my pre-pregnancy body. Who cares? I’m a mom. And with that title comes the confidence I didn’t have before to go out in public looking less than my best. My lack of abs is proof that my body was a well lived in home for 9 months. My dark under eye circles show that I am there for my child 24/7, without hesitation. And, I know my husband loves me for me- unshaven legs, bad breath and all.

Parenting is hard, whether you have a screamer, a constant sleeper, a pleasant non-crier, or anything in between. It’s hard on all fronts. It’s tiring, self-sacrificing, stressful, scary, intimidating, messy stuff.  Talk about an emotional roller coaster. Some days I feel like I’m walking on eggshells, and would literally do anything to keep my baby from crying. Despite all the difficulty, it’s absolutely amazing. It’s rewarding, stretching, and growing. It is beautiful.

This is the purpose of this blog. To be real. To tell you why raising a child is hard, not just from the obvious sleep deprivation and stinted social life, the real stuff. The stuff no one tells you about. This is my journey and I want to share it with you. The ups and the downs. Hopefully some of you will be able to relate and will find strength knowing that another mother out there is sharing some bad days too, in spite of all the good ones.

So concludes my first post in the blogging world. And with that I leave you a picture of my beautiful babe taken by my most talented friend. Check out her website here.