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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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. 

Life With Two

So…I can’t really stay away from my blog. It’s just so therapeutic for me. There has been SO much change in our lives since my last post, but I will catch you up on that another day. Shortly stated, life is good right now. SO good.

Many people have asked how things are going with two. So far so good. We love our Lennon girl something fierce. But, in an effort to remain “real” here’s a story for you about our morning so far which pretty much sums up what our days with two are really like. Let me preface this story first by saying that yes, our days are crazier now, but our family is more complete than it has ever been. I wouldn’t trade these days for anything…most of the time…or if margaritas are involve. I also fully acknowledge that I am a complete spaz. Moving on.

Lennon dislikes the car/ carseat a lot, so most of our drives are accompanied with screaming. We’ve all learned to tolerate this and she usually wears herself out into a sleep at some point. Today, on our way home from our mom’s group we had a few errands to run, and Lennon was semi holding it together so we pushed forward and spent more time in the car.

As we continued on in our journey home, Lennon began to lose it pretty badly. Lennon, much like her brother and much against the continued efforts of her parents, is not a napper. In her first weeks of life when typical newborns sleep a majority of the day, our lovely daughter would remain awake for 10 hour stretches at a time, with a short five or ten minute snooze every few hours. No, this is not an exaggeration. But, she sleeps like a champ at night, so we deal. Anyway, I knew her urgency in crying was due to needing a nap, along with her general hatred of the car.

We arrived home and all bets were off. Lennon was sweating and red as a beet. I not only had to get her out of the car, but also the bulky diaper bag (and honestly, I never use that thing, why I bring it along is beyond my comprehension) our coats, so many tiny crafts my son had made in his class that he for some reason cannot carry, and I also needed to unbuckle his carseat, which is freaking impossible to do with one hand…thank you Britax. Phew.

I loaded up as much as I could then got us to the front door, screaming baby in tow. Currently, our garage door isn’t working, so I had to drop everything and find my keys that I hastily threw in some random pocket of the diaper bag when I got out of the car.  Thankfully, it was not rainy today.

After I managed to dig out the keys, our 60 pound dog comes barreling out to greet us, slamming the carseat into my knees and almost knocking over poor Judah. Lennon is just totally gone at this point. I hurriedly drop everything to save her from her carseat. While I’m trying desperately to unbuckle her as quickly as I can, Judah tells me the dog has thrown up all over the rug in the living room. Fantastic. However, the screaming baby wins every time, so the puke will have to wait.

I go to nurse her and lay her down for a nap. Again, the baby does not sleep, as per usual. Instead, she lays in her crib for a bit while I run to make lunch for Judah who is getting close to a meltdown of his own (“my tummy is rumbling forever!”) from having to wait so long on his sister. And by so long I mean five minutes. I finally appease his appetite with a yogurt and PB&J. By this time, an overtired Lennon is totally gone and screaming in her crib. I run to console her. Giving in to the fact that she just won’t nap, I bring her out into the kitchen and encourage Judah to finish his sandwich that he so desperately needed, of which he has taken two bites…of course.

Time passes and I’m flipping from consoling the tired baby to convincing the preschooler that quiet time is a requirement every day for mommy’s sanity. Finally the stars align and Judah agrees he can build some legos in his room and Lennon is finally content. I set her in her bouncer and make lunch for myself. After this, just when I’m about to take that first bite (isn’t it always at that time parents?) she loses it again because at this point, she’s beyond overtired. I nurse her, she spits up everywhere, we both change clothes.

I finally rock Lennon into a stupor, but, every time her eyes close, Judah comes out of his room to ask me to separate legos that he is working on and we have to start the rocking and bouncing all over again. At this point, I’m about 30 seconds from banning all legos forever.

Lennon finally calms down again, enough for me to put her down and try to tidy up the disaster that is surrounding our front door from when we got home. Upon doing so, I walk into the living room and see the dog’s puke everywhere that I had forgotten about. At this point, it’s been two hours since Judah first told me about it.

Cue crying baby and another few lego pieces that are impossibly fastened together. “These are the days of our lives.”

 

So long!

In true fashion to the name of this blog, the following post is no doubt, extremely rambling. Just stick with me if you can 🙂

This blog has always been a place of complete honesty. I think there is so much out there for us to look at that–though not necessarily dishonest–doesn’t encompass the entire picture. I have written this blog as a way to vent, share our little family’s story, and to be honest about the ups and downs that I face in life, whether serious, funny, or amazing.

Since getting laid off from my job, I have tried for over a year to land a freelance position (other than the one I semi hold where I formally worked). My goal in doing this has been two-fold: one, for the obvious reason of providing income for my family and helping out in that area, and two, because staying home for the first few years of my babies lives is so important to me, and writing is one of those rare things I can do while also being a stay at home mom. However, I have tried to no avail. As each month passes and as the reality that I’m going to have to return to a 9-5 gets closer and closer, I have felt my self-worth slowly begin to wither away.

This blog has previously provided a healthy outlet for me. I love to write. I am not always the most open person, but for some reason, I am able to express my thoughts most clearly when they are written out. This platform has provided ways for me to relate with others and share my story that I normally wouldn’t have. I have gotten messages from strangers, friends, acquaintances, and more thanking me for the words I have written on this site. The impact some of my blogs have had on others is a gift that I will never be able to replicate. I am so appreciative of those of you who have taken the time to read my rambles and reach out to me with parts of your own story.

Despite all the good that has come from this blog, there has been some down fall. There has been a lot of judgement received by what I have chosen to discuss on here. And, at times, I have used this blog negatively myself. Because of this and a little bit more that I’m not getting into, I have decided to take an indefinite pause.

The holidays are fast approaching and I think it’s the perfect time to put this blog to rest. During this season, I’m going to focus on my son and preparations for our new little girl.

But before I go, I want to thank you, my readers, for your love and support over the last three years. It’s been so fun to reconnect with people, relate to total strangers, and share life with you. It always blows my mind when people say they have not only read my blog, but enjoyed it, or found it helpful. So thank you for taking the time to reach out to me. You will never know the positive effect that has had on me.

Who knows, maybe in a few months I’ll be back with the shenanigans that come with balancing two kids, but for now, it’s time to say farewell! Much love, and thanks for the journey!

Silver Falls, OR. Hiking buddies for life.

Silver Falls, OR. Hiking buddies for life.

Routine Significance.

Wake up. Brew coffee. Turn on children’s show. Pour cereal. Pour coffee.

Get dressed. Walk the dog. Go to the library, or grocery store, or coffee shop, or play date.

Lunch. Clean up. Read books. Nap/quiet time (or attempt one at least). Afternoon snack. Daddy’s home.

Play. Make dinner. Clean up. Laundry. Play. Bedtime routine. Try to get toddler to stay in bed. Crash on couch. Stumble to bed an hour or so later.

Repeat.

Fellow parents, do you ever feel like you’re just trudging through the day, going through the motions, like a song stuck on repeat? I have been feeling that way a lot lately. I know kids thrive on routine, so I try to stick to a basic one, and it’s true–the days that we are off kilter from our normal “schedule” are just not as successful. But my goodness, sometimes I just don’t feel like my days are significant.

I recently joined a church group for moms, recommended to me by a friend. I had tried one last year, and unfortunately due to prior commitments, I couldn’t go. This year, it worked out in my favor, and in Judah’s. During our first lesson, one of the leaders stood up and reminded us moms that what we are doing, where we are right in the trenches of diapers, toys, crafts, and endless amounts of laundry and clean up, these are some of the most valuable days. Yes, we may have paused careers or are shuffling wild schedules in an attempt to balance work and home life. Yes, we may feel like who we were prior to kids is totally lost, and seems impossible to get back. But what we’re doing right now matters. It’s important. It’s significant.

I don’t like looking at motherhood as a “job.” It’s not something that you go to every day and clock out of at five. Parenting another human being is an extreme privilege, and hearing that message was such a good reminder of that principle for me. What I’m doing might seem mundane right now. Gone are the days of spontaneous dates with my husband. I choose my wardrobe based on practicality and comfort over the latest fashions. The highlight of my week is typically our usual Target run. This is my life right now. And just as my kiddo is getting more independent and things like actually eating a hot dinner are occurring more frequently, I’m about to buckle down and add even more craziness to life in just a few short weeks.

But let me repeat what I heard: Parents, what you are doing daily, the investment you’re making in your kids, the time you take to play with them after a long day at the office, the 50th load of laundry that week, and the 800th dish you have washed, they are meaningful. You are investing in the lives of these little humans, and that is something more valuable than you can ever imagine. So don’t be discouraged by the mundane. Embrace this stage of life and bask in the importance of the routine–the work you are doing matters. It is significant. You are significant.

Second Baby Blues

I’m pretty sure my pregnancy hormones have been kicking into overdrive the last few days. I’ve got all the signs: I feel terribly fat and bloated, I’m getting kind of weepy (enter the crying at sappy commercials stage of life), and I had a burst of nesting energy so fierce that I painted our daughter’s nursery while my son was at a morning playdate. Yep…hormones.

But there’s another kind of emotion I’ve been dealing with the last few days, and I’m not entirely sure what to call it or what to do with it. I am over the moon about adding a baby to our family. We’ve tried for so long to make this happen and have experienced such heartbreak throughout the process, and I just know this time around is the perfect time for our daughter to join us. I’m also so excited about Judah being a big brother. He’s just going to be fantastic. He already talks to her, asks about her every day, and has readily taken to the fact that baby girl is taking over his “toy bedroom” when she gets here. He’s even discussed playing trucks with her.

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Yesterday, as we were sitting out on the porch together, talking about airplanes, I just paused and looked at my beautiful boy and welled up with tears. It’s been just the three of us for the past three years. He’s all we know. Every day when Kyle is at work, it’s just me and my boy. He has gotten me through the loss of three children, given me the drive to work to provide for my family when I just wanted to be playing cars with my kiddo, and he brings happiness to my life that nothing else can.

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I know that everything will be beyond wonderful when baby girl comes, but it’s been a little overwhelming for me to count down the weeks of pregnancy and also know that I’m counting down the days left with just Judah. The time that we’ve been blessed with to parent him has been indescribable. I know adding another will only enhance it, but sometimes it just seems so daunting.

Am I crazy here? Did any of you other moms out there experience this? Well, for now, I’m just embracing these emotions and using them to soak up and savor each moment I have just the three of us. We cannot wait for our baby to arrive, but I’m also okay with dragging out these last precious moments a little longer (although in about 17 weeks I might just be screaming from the rooftops: “get this kid outta me!”).

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Potty Training Woes.

I want to encourage you parents who have potty-training aged children to do one of two things. One, if you’ve had success and a relatively swift potty training experience, give yourself a high five and smother your kiddo in kisses and please give them extra dessert today. Two, if you’re working with a difficult potty trainer, hang in there, and drink at least two glasses of wine–one for you and one for me cause I can’t have any until January.

Mmmmkay….We’ve been on the potty training bus for far too long and I’m about to take the wheel and crash it into a freaking tree just to be done with it. “Bethany, you are being so dramatic,” you say. Talk to me when you’ve been potty training for six months. Six months. That’s HALF A YEAR.

I know what you’re thinking. Boys are harder to potty train than girls are. Yes, I’m aware. We tried it when I thought Judah was ready at a much younger age. He had recently turned two and developed a high curiosity about all things toilet. I wanted to jump on that as fast as I could, but we had visitors in town and the proper attention to it just couldn’t be paid, so we continued to keep him in diapers. Fast forward two weeks and I tried an intense method that had worked for a very trusted mom friend of mine, and he was clearly just stressed and the interest had passed. Having a good read on the situation, and knowing that boys are often late bloomers in the potty department, I was happy to resign my efforts and allow him to continue on in diapers until that interest once again peaked.

After a few months, we tried again. He was totally on board with getting rid of his diapers. Only, he hated underwear, like full out tantrum every time they were brought out, but was okay with pull ups, so we adapted and used those. It was a slow go, and I figured out that we just kind of had to let Judah lead the charge. After six months, I am proud to say that Judah is finally in underwear full-time, minus nights, where he still uses a pull-up.

However….I cannot for the life of me get this kid to freaking poop in the toilet! Before you offer up your solid (no pun intended, but that’d be a pretty good one) parenting advice, let me stop you. I have no doubts that whatever you did with your child worked wonders. Chances are, I have tried it. I have read every blog, every Pinterest post, and consulted every opinion I deem worthy. Plus, I’m not asking, I’m venting. There is a time and place for everything.

We have had three successful poop endeavors. The first one, you’d think Judah just got elected for President, and made Kanye his VP. Boo-ya. I seriously almost cried, pictures were sent to family, and he was allowed to go to ToysRUs and pick out something of his choice, which NEVER happens for obvious reasons. He was SO proud of himself and Kyle and I were floating on cloud nine, thinking this potty thing was almost in the bag. Why did we not remember that the kids always get the last laugh?

Proudly sporting his

Proudly sporting his “big boy” underwear.

Since then, Judah has developed an irrational compulsion of pooping at the park or at our friend’s house (sorry Geers). I’m not kidding you, every time we go to the park, not five minutes into our time there, he’s pooped his pants. We warn him that we will need to come home, we coach him about telling us when he has to go, we encourage him to try before we leave, and now we’ve completely taken the park off the table (which also totally sucks for me…btw) until he consistently poops in the potty. Can I just remind you that it’s been six months? Just wanted to get that out there again.

So it happened again today. The kid had been stinky-farting for like three hours. We talked to him about going, encouraged him to try, he’s peed like a champ all day long, and we gave him the park ultimatum. Before we left, we told him to try going. We warned him that if he pooped up at the park, we would come home immediately. We made sure this was understood before we left. He also understands there is a bathroom there that he can use. Like clockwork, five minutes into the trip we see the poop face. We check his undies and sure enough, there’s a number two sitting in there. We head home as promised and once again beat our heads against the door.

“Where are you supposed to poop, Judah?”  I ask my son.

“In the potty.” He replies as usual.

“How come you didn’t go in the potty this time?” I ask. (But seriously, child…why the heck not???)

“Because I said yes then no.” He says, which is his typical I-know-I-did-something-I-shouldn’t response.

SIX MONTHS. Potty training is like that hemorrhoid you get after giving birth that just never goes away. It’s nagging, it’s ironically persistent, and no matter how much PreparationH you put on that sucker, it’s always there.

We have a new ultimatum now. We are in process of redoing Judah’s room in anticipation of our newest baby. And now, not only is the park on hold, but Judah does not get his bunk beds constructed for his new room until he starts pooping in his potty. He has been asking about his bunk beds every day since they have been delivered a few weeks ago. I am crossing my fingers and hoping with all hope that this will be the motivator that is needed.

For now, I’m just going to eat my feelings in chocolate because that’s all I’ve got while pregnant. And did I mention, I loathe potty training. Absolutely loathe it.