Is it just me?

I don’t know when it happened, exactly. I’m guessing sometime around 18 weeks.

I remember I had just started to feel the baby move in my belly and it was the most exciting feeling ever. After suffering a loss before this pregnancy and prior struggles to conceive, I was elated to be experiencing pregnancy to its fullest effects.

The movement from that point forward never stopped. Although you’d never know it by the frequency I checked her heart rate with my home Doppler. I was obsessed with knowing my baby was doing ok, and sometimes the movement just wasn’t enough. But it was there. The constant kicking and jabbing and hiccups and rolls…all of it.

I know nothing about womb temperament and any correlations of that outside the womb, and I still don’t after talking to many others who don’t share my experience. but after my second pregnancy now, I should have known from all that movement that my gal was going to be a kicking, screaming, strong-willed, bold, outspoken, social butterfly of a person.

Writing that makes me smile. It makes me feel like no matter what life throws at my girl throughout her life, she will tackle the ups and downs with a smile on her face and rage in her heart. Nothing will get her down. She will be a lover AND a fighter. Except right now, that’s kind of the problem.

Her infant months and now into toddlerhood have been non-stop. There have been uphill battles since her arrival 6 weeks early. NICU stays, health complications, delayed motor skills, most notably a forever compromised immune system, and more. Nothing has been easy. And for the most part, that’s ok. I have my girl despite all of the challenging moments we experience together. But I can’t lie and say it doesn’t get old. That it’s not the most mentally exhausting thing in the world. To want nothing more than to please your child and make them happy, but every single effort of yours fails miserably and we’re both left in a puddle of tears at the end of the day. It’s not fun.

Mostly, people see and experience the happiest of kids. The one who is always smiling, blowing kisses, or chasing you down to place the sweetest of real kisses upon your face. The one who barks like a puppy, moo’s like a cow, meows like a kitty and roars like a dinosaur on command. The one who sings and dances and claps her chubby little hands to the beat of just about anything these days. And for that I’m grateful.

But days where I’m at the ends of my rope, when I’ve spent hours before those precious moments battling screams and tears, and being hit and scratched–to name a few–it is literally PAINFUL to hear “she’s such a happy girl!!!” Yes, she is happy. For about 3 out of the 24 hours in a day, usually not consecutively. And It just so happens this time it’s the 3 you’re around. Most think she can do no wrong, and I guess….that’s really what I want. I don’t want people to know and experience what I do as a parent, but sometimes I just DONT want to hear how amazing my child is when I don’t think she is.

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like this?

It’s not that I don’t love her. I love her fiercely…but maybe that’s the problem? We have set the expectation bar so low at this point you can trip on it, so I don’t feel like we are asking or expecting too much from her. She’s a child and we get that. But why do I feel like I’m the only parent with a kid that behaves in the most unbearable way? Are there others and they are just hiding it? If so, come out and play…commiserate with me so I can feel normal. Or Is this normal and I have this whole parenting thing all wrong!?

And yes, yes, I know: she has a new baby brother so she is probably acting out. Thank you for your empathy, but that is not the problem. Girlfriend has been acting a fool long before little bro was even conceived.
The goal here is not to complain, mostly because I can feel the judgy eye rolls from here…but I would like some sincere feedback from any parents who have dealt with a similar temperament and if/how/when it gets better. Or does it?

Now that baby number 2 IS in the picture, I can’t continue to neglect him when she’s around, but I can’t mentally afford to ignore her bad behavior either. Help!

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Small Victories

I’m not quite sure what brought the calmness to my house tonight, but I’m not complaining. It’s 9pm and my whole family has been asleep for 2 whole hours. Yes, even my husband.

I love the time I get to spend with each of them, together and alone, but even a night away from my husband has been…productive. With still rather unpredictable sleep schedules for both kids (wahhh), when the kids go down that’s generally our queue to pop the popcorn, gather our cellular devices and run into the bedroom (quietly) and do one (actually, all) of the following: turn on NetFlix or Hulu and watch 1-3 episodes of a show we’ve seen a trillion times—usually Psych—while simultaneously surfing YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and whatever news sites are favorited on our devices…we don’t have cable ya’ll…and hope we remember to turn off the TV before we both fall asleep.

What this really means is: dinner got put away half-assed, the dishes didn’t get done, breakfast didn’t get prepped, floors didn’t get swept, clothes didn’t get picked out and toys didn’t get put away. Clearly our routine does nothing but make us feel like we have a life for 2 hours of our day, but it also means I get to wake up to a dirty kitchen/living room while trying to make it through the morning in one piece. Its usually done with a lot of sacrificing on my part—in that it doesn’t get taken care of when/how I want it (#notdoneatall)—so it was nice to have a chance of pace tonight.

First, I managed to get both kids to bed by 7. This has literally never been done before. CJ usually doesn’t go to sleep until 8 at the earliest and then fusses on and off until he’s out for good about 9/9:30. I then finished the dishes from dinner, and the dishes that didn’t fit in the dishwasher from like…a week ago, maybe two. From there the toys got put away, counters wiped down, breakfast prepped, coffee pot ready, meals planned, tomorrows to-do list created and about 45 minutes worth of ACTUAL work work done. I feel like freaking superwoman right now. A very tired superwoman.

So with that, it’s my turn to join my sleepyheads. Thank you family, for one of the best nights a mom could ask for!

Meet my Family

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started writing these past few weeks, trying to piece together a post about “stuff”. But every time I read back, I felt emotionally drained reading about my own life. The kids have been sick the whole month of March, I finally caught it, we had to put down a family pet, we celebrated Easter, our professional lives have seen some changes; and while that doesn’t sound draining I couldn’t just post that. “Where are the details?” you would ask. Neither here nor there, really, so why don’t we talk about something a little more meaningful to me: My Family.Color (2)Last night, I found a few moments to sift through the photos I picked up from our family photo session we did a few weeks ago, and I literally felt my heart growing. I could feel myself beaming with happiness from left to right despite having been sick and miserable the whole week. I was able to look at my family through the eyes of someone else and was happily shocked at what I saw. Sure, there were outtakes where Little Miss was fussy, but surprisingly those were far and few between in comparison to the perfect moments that were captured.Color (76)I say surprisingly, because I’m incredibly guilty of comparing myself—and my family—to others. I could not love my kids or my family more, but I’ll be honest: being a mom isn’t easy. Being a stay at home mom isn’t easy either. Your work is never done, there are days where nothing you do will please anyone in the house (yes, the tiny humans of the house) and you just want to sit in a corner, cry a little, maybe drink some wine, and eat a bar of chocolate. They might be small but they can run your life and defeat you in a matter of minutes. I don’t know how they do it, but my lord can it be draining. And I was terrified that those moments would shine through the camera as we struggled to get a toddler to sit still and a limp baby to be perfectly posed…and then I would be left with one (ok, maybe three) good family photos to choose from. But instead, the moments I hang on to…the ones that break me…they weren’t the ones that filled the USB. It was our smiles, our silly daughter being a kid and making our life beautifully chaotic, the face of my husband and I as we laughed off the chaos trying to make it through the shoot. All the RIGHT moments.Color (51)You see, I’ve come to find—especially after being gone from Facebook for so long—that social media has made us feel inadequate as parents, as humans really. Before seeing these photos I felt like failure a lot of the times…as a parent (why can’t I make my daughter happy, why does she always cry at/for me?), as a wife (have I grown fat and frumpy?), and as an individual (I’m a stay at home mom and not contributing financially). But when I saw these photos, I was instantly reassured. So many times others have told me I have a beautiful family, and that my kids are always smiling and happy…but in the trenches it’s hard to see that, or even accept what I thought to be lies to make me feel better, to actually be true.

Color (206)So while many of you have already seen these photos before they existed, in that you’ve witnessed (IRL) the happiness that we are/have as a family, and the smiles we never see because we don’t spend our life in front of a camera or mirror, here we are again. Perfectly imperfect, meet my family: The Andersons.Color (59)Color (12)Color (131)Color (157)Color (30)Color (90)Color (216)

 

THE DETAILS

Photography: Amaes Photography

Location: Tumbleweed Park

Kids outfits: Carter’s

Moms outfit: Top/Bottoms-Target | Shoes-Cole Haan

Dads outfit: Old Navy

The Good & Bad on Dads

I am ever so grateful for my other half in this thing called life, but even more so when it comes to parenting. It’s the hardest job I never applied for and to have someone to help you when you feel like a failure at your worst is very comforting.

But like all good things, having Dad around isn’t always peaches and cream. Sometimes it’s actually EASIER to parent alone (lets take this with a grain of salt, shall we?). With no other opinions or ideas of how things should go; especially when said person works 5 days a week out of the house and away from the kids. You don’t know us…shoo fly.
So, after a short weekend and now into the start of my husbands 2 week paternity leave (yay!) I have a mixed review of why this time is so wonderful and stressful to boot. I’ll start with the bad, in efforts to end on a good note:

The Bad

  • It takes twice as long to get out of the house, or do anything for that matter.
    When its time to leave, or do whatever it is that has been planned, I want to do it…quickly. Why? Well, because I have a toddler first and foremost, and secondly because I have an infant. This means that when we are all ready (you know, in order to avoid meltdowns, to keep stimulation and to avoid running over into nap-time territory which isn’t fun for anyone) then we MUST go! To be honest, I was under the impression this extended time to go anywhere/do anything would be because of the extra (tiny) human I have to account for, but at this point it’s because of our extra (big) human – i.e. Daddy. My better half feels like our toddler can wait until he’s ready, so he doesn’t rush for anything or anyone, and that is that. Except no. No dear husband. Speed it up, forget about your wants and needs and oh yeah, welcome to parenting.
  • Nighttime calming voice/play does not exist. When it’s dark, dinner has been eaten and baths have been had, I try really hard to wind it all down for the kids. Lower the lights, turn off/down the music or TV, read books etc. On the other hand, my darling husband loves to play chase, talk to our (sleeping) infant in loud voices -he did this with our daughter too?! – and ultimately plays with our toddler in a way that surprisingly doesn’t result in her throwing up her dinner. I am lost as to how the need for calm does not automatically kick in. We are parents for goodness sake; it’s the end of the day and we want sleeping children, not ones climbing the walls and screaming to mirror your animal voices. Ugh, but because i’m sensible, I understand that dad is usually away during play hours and he just wants to have fun with his kiddos. Darn you sensible self…darn you.
  • Diaper Genie. When I was newly pregnant with our first born, and making our registry list, I was excited about a diaper genie. A device to keep diapers and their smells sealed and away from my nostrils. Until actually having diapers to put in there and falling victim to the naivety of said diaper contraption. This thing by NO means seals the smell of any poopy diaper beyond the 0-3 month stage. So after several smacks in the face with hour/day old smelly diapers, I put a stop to throwing any dirty diaper in the genie. Or so I thought. Look, I get it…it’s not convenient to wrap the diaper in a separate baggy and take it out to the big trash, or at the very least set it outside the back door (guilty–don’t no momma have time to leave her babies to walk outside to dispose of anything in the big trash). But for the love…PLEASE remember to do something other than putting it in the dungeon of diaper death so I can avoid throwing up post changing a NON-poopy diaper. This was especially fun when I was pregnant with baby #2!
  • Crying does.not.matter. Psh! Please…if my child is crying I’m comforting them for appropriate reasons or trying to stop a tantrum. Sure, sometimes I have to ignore it because the tantrum is completely unwarranted and we all know there is no reasoning with a toddler. But when there is a resolution for said tantrum (within parenting reason) you bet your behind I’m going to find it and use it. When you spend all day, everyday, listening to endless crying all you want is for it to stop. Daddy does not even flinch when the crying starts. This both irritates me and amazes me at the same time. #patience
  • “I’ll BRB”, and then doesn’t….My “favorite” is when dad needs/wants to go do something and will be right back. But then I notice that said task has been accomplished and I’m still without a husband. One task usually turns into 700 and I lose him for a few hours. I’m not going to lie…I wish I could (or should?) take a page out of dad’s book and disappear for a while longer than I say. But then guilt kicks in and i’m met with thoughts like “the baby probably needs to eat. my toddler is probably trying to eat the baby. my husband is surely crumbling at the chaos of taking care of two children…alone…for 5 minutes.” But alas, this is never the case and I kick myself and say “next time”. But that scenario is most certainly on repeat. Oh well.
Now on to the positive stuff…

THE GOOD

  • I get to eat. During the day. Like a human being who matters. I get breakfast and coffee after the toddler eats, snacks/water if I need or want them while nursing, and same routine goes for lunchtime. I do take over at dinner, but only because I’ve eaten throughout the day my hanger lets me joyfully cook a meal. Win!
  • Allergies and other general medications needs: I don’t have to explain why my daughter can only have soy milk, and then worry whether or not she was given regular milk anyway. And if she’s teething, my husband knows the dosage, where the meds are and the tricks to get our diva to take it. I don’t have to leave notes or talk as though I’m instruction a 13 year old babysitter for the first time. I also don’t have to be the only one playing the “bad guy” when our little is sick, which is at least one week out of every month.
  • Speaking of babysitters: thanks Dad! I’ve gotten to leave my toddler on a few short occasions while going out with the baby alone 🙌🏻 Don’t get excited…it was to the grocery store and once to say goodbye to my best friend who was leaving me (again). It was a beautiful thing to just have a “me” moment. And my newborn is a dream at this point so him tagging along is great. 11401402_929563973753095_7131289460149916972_nAnd also, this photo ^^. Bless Care.com, but I will never have trust enough to become a customer. Thank heavens for daddies!
  • Someone to have coffee with, talk to throughout the day (without feeling/knowing that i’m interrupting their important workday) and have with me at the end of the day when things start to get tough. As i’m still waking throughout the night for infant feedings, the end of my days are always the hardest…for all of us. We are all tired, our littles are hungry, and tears are usually involved. Thankfully they aren’t always mine, especially now that we get dad home with us. But when he’s not, the weekends are always painfully missed around dinner time.
  • I get to watch the man I love bond with both of our babies. Playing airplane, going to the park and going down the big kid slide, playing chase, making funny faces and noises…I know full well, these moments will make such an impact on our little’s lives. There’s nothing quite like watching your man show unconditional love to your kids, it’s seriously heart melting.
  • Stealing moments of love throughout the day, in the midst of chaos. This is probably the best part of having dad around, in my personal opinion.  Parenting is a complete team effort and on the weekends (and in our case, for the next two weeks) we get to literally team up side-by-side and navigate the chaos of our lives (her name is Hailey) while still somehow, and thankfully, sharing glances and touches throughout the day. These small reminders let us know that not only do we still love each other but that we are IN love, despite the beautiful little people that take us away from one other sometimes.

So as you can see, having dad around can sometimes be a pain in the neck; people are NOT lying when they refer to their husbands as their 2nd and 3rd+ child (don’t even get me started about sick daddies either…). But without Dad we wouldn’t get to experience those good moments we love so much, and when it’s good it’s so, so good.

 

Different Strokes for Different Folks

No parent wants to hear their child cry. It’s heart breaking, can be worrying, unsettling and downright scary. It can also be ear piercing and migraine inducing. And every single parent (that I know) would do anything to console their sweet baby in efforts to lessen/stop their cry. But what if those efforts don’t work?

I’ve seen a lot lately about parents choosing not to let their child cry it out…no matter what. I applaud all of them for their love and efforts, as well as patience to ensure their child is comforted enough to stop crying. And quite frankly I envy the fact that when they speak of their efforts, the outcome is: “my child stopped crying!” As I said, hearing your child cry is flat out heart breaking, so when I alone—or whatever efforts I’m instilling at the time—is not enough to comfort my child, not only am I sad for my baby…I feel like failure as a parent.

I think there is this misconception that when a parent “chooses” to let their child cry it out, it’s this selfish choice. As though we enjoy hearing our child wail from across the house or watching their crying fits take place over the video monitor. It’s painful. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to put myself through pain willingly.

When my daughter was young, I did everything to try and console my screaming, unhappy infant. Day and night, inconsolable cries came from her, which later we found was due to a dairy allergy. But during those MONTHS (yes…months) where we went through a list of other reasons for her cries (gas, colic, acid refluc & countless medications later…) I lost sleep. A lot of sleep. But As a parent that’s what we signed up for, right? I mean, everyone tells you “prepare not to sleep!” in those first few weeks/months, and so we just thought this was part of the process.

My daughter was also premature. I don’t know if this is linked to the long-term “disconnect” we seem to have (that’s a whole different, heart-breaking story for another day) but deep down I can’t help but feel it does. Upon birth she wasn’t immediately put in my arms. We didn’t get to do skin-to-skin. I barely remember being coherent after it all, and when I did get to see her and be with her she was in the NICU hooked up to monitors with all sorts of wiring hanging off her body. We didn’t get the breastfeeding experience/bonding time either. Due to her small size, the doctors were concerned she would use too much energy and would lose more weight, so I had to pump in order to give her breast milk.

But once she was home, and her appetite picked up, we started to notice that she just wasn’t settling right. She would fall asleep and after a few minutes wake up from a dead sleep screaming in pain. We spent countless nights awake trying to comfort her, but nothing we tried was making her feel better. The reason for her pain was unknown to us at the time, despite working with her first pediatrician for roughly 2 months (who refused to confirm a dairy allergy because I could not visibly see blood in her stool). At the time, I also worked full-time, had my 10 week old baby in daycare during the day, and spent 3 hours driving to/from work 5 days a week. A parent with that schedule and any newborn is a lot to handle, let alone spending 2 months with one that did not sleep.

I’m sure all parents can attest, too many nights without sleep puts you in a very difficult place. You’re tired, hungry, probably dehydrated, and irritable—which can bring out the Hyde in anyone! Add a non-stop crying baby to the mix and things are just no bueno. But this was me. This was my life. I told myself: I’m a mom, a parent, the caregiver to an innocent little girl who cannot tell me what’s wrong. It’s my job to figure it out, but most importantly it’s my job to make her feel better and stop her from crying. For her. For me. For all the sanity in the world. For the love people…

Nearing the end of the 2 month stretch of endless crying and no sleep, I had lost every bit of myself. I had failed as a mother and I was internally beating myself up about it; so much so that I became angry. I became angry to a point that I had to put my screaming child down (in the arms of my husband—thank God for his blessed soul), leave them together and go to our guest room and sleep. I heard her cries for a while, until the sleep took over, but my husband later told me she continued to cry until she ultimately she cried herself to sleep.

So many times in the news my husband and I would read and comment about “shaken babies”, and HOW COULD PARENTS DO THAT TO THEIR CHILDREN!? I still feel that way. There are things you can do to avoid such sad outcomes, but looking back…I totally get it. There is a breaking point, and I reached mine. Also looking back at that moment, I decided to switch doctors and get a second opinion on the allergy—which was confirmed.

You see: letting our daughter cry it out was never in our “plan”. That’s not what we wanted, and honestly it’s something I still absolutely hate. But when you do every. single. little. thing. to get your sweet, precious love-bug to stop her tears and it doesn’t work, you have no choice than to walk away and let them figure it out. Finding out about the dairy allergy definitely provided more sleep for the whole family, but when those crying outbursts happened thereafter, we still found it difficult to comfort her. Was it because of the long-term bouts of self-comforting she had to endure? I don’t know. But I do know that my daughter finds sleep when she cries it out for a few minutes as opposed to me distracting her by SELFISHLY wanting to hold, cuddle and comfort her.

Now, please know (in my own personal experience at least), that I believe there is a difference between letting a child cry it out and letting them cry for no reason. While it took a little while, I know my child’s cry. I know if she’s been crying a certain amount of time, she’s not ready for bed yet (despite her yawning, eye rubbing, and bad attitude). So I’ll take her out and give her about 30minutes—which usually does the trick. I also know if she’s hungry or thirsty. If it’s not those, I’m going in to check for a wet/dirty diaper, wet clothing, room temperature, etc. I am fully aware that if a child is crying, it’s generally for a reason but when it comes to comforting my child (even though I can tell she wants it so much) it’s like she refuses the comfort. She gets it and then pushes us away.

Sadly, this is something she has “always” done…at least what I can remember. Now, at 17 months old, we continue to go through the same cry it out routine almost every nap-time and at bed-time. We’ve rocked her for hours, and all it resulted in was baby-babbling conversations (I’m sure you think this is cute, but there comes a point where you have to be the parent and make sure you child actually gets sleep…), eye poking, hair pulling, or squirmy-wormy trying to break away from the cuddles we so desperately want to give.

I share not to pass judgment on those that choose not to let their kids cry it out, as I know many of them don’t judge in opposition, but to inform that it’s not always a “CHOICE” as many people seem to think. Trust me when I say, I would die to fall asleep with my girl in my arms. Maybe someday.

2 Under Two

 

I’ve wanted to share this post for a while, but you know…with a newborn and a toddler running the roost, the things mom “wants” is definitely low on the totem pole. But alas we are here.

Since becoming pregnant, I cannot tell you how many looks, comments, scoffs, and blatant bug eyed reactions (despite their clear need not to show how they really feel—sorry but I see you judging me…) that I’ve gotten regarding how close in age my kids would be. While it still happens now that he’s here, they are usually preoccupied by the cuteness of his little newborn-self, that people forget to judge me in front of my face. I do run into some moms that are in the same boat, so I get sincere admiration from them, but it’s few and far between.

But despite the judgmental looks, the open comments saying that “we’re brave” or “good luck!” (**sarcastic chuckle** um, thanks?), there are still many who are intrigued about one thing: “HOW DO YOU DO IT?” or “How WILL you do it?”

The thing is, none of this was a mistake. It wasn’t an “oops”. I didn’t make the decision to have another baby while leaving my husband in the dark (queue the additional “you’re crazy!” looks)…this was a conscious decision by both my husband and I, and that has been the number one thing that has created an environment where we are not only willing but happy about growing our family.

Logistically speaking, bringing home baby #2 has certainly been an adjustment, but one that was not nearly as intimidating as I thought. When you bring home another baby when you already have one you’re caring for, you just keep going. I am forever thankful I did not require a c-section, and that my healing process has been quick, because there’s very little downtime.

With little downtime and high levels of exhaustion, it’s taken some time to gather my thoughts and come up with plan and schedule that gets us through a day (and let’s get real, we’re only 2 weeks in!). Creating this schedule, being organized and PLANNING, is what has allowed us to function these few weeks of being home. We have started a daily schedule for the kids (see our friends schedule where we’ve adapted ours from), a meal plan (thinking about food should be the last thing on your mind + toddlers eat pretty much all day long!), and have setup our home for our needs (diaper changes, play-time, mealtime, etc.). Although we’re still building a routine that works for our family, we are finding things to be pretty manageable. I know I’ll live to regret saying this right now, but such is life.

Sure, sometimes I don’t get to shower when I want, I primarily eat standing up…or start my meal sitting at the table and finish it while breastfeeding my newborn…on the couch… with a blanket covering him so not have food land on his sweet face. I mostly live in stretchy pants, despite my pre-pregnancy pants fitting again. Laundry happens multiple times a day now (my husband is thankful for this!) due to bodily fluids being excreted from the newbie on the daily (hourly!?). I have reached a new level, er….obsession, with all things being in their place so I can easily find what I need during hangry meltdowns—hungry/crying babies & toddlers will never make you move faster. I’ve been trying to be “crafty mom” to occupy my toddlers time during the day and fail every. single. time. And admittedly, I look forward to the time I can put my sweet toddler into her bed for nap-time so mommy finish her list of things to do. Which now mostly means I get to feed my hungry man, while scouring Pinterest for the next art project we will fail at try to create. Or, for my own sake, eat lunch because my toddler eats so fast I can’t make my food by the time she’s “all done” and starts the ants in her pants dance to get out of her chair.

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But this is the life, guys. The one I chose and the one I love. As I said before, this was a conscious decision we made together for our life. And for anyone who’s found yourself judging from afar (and you feel you must know) here’s a little more insight as to why we decided to grow our family when we did:

Our age. While 27 & 30 (at time of finding out we were expecting) is young, knowing we wanted more kids and not wanting to be in our 40’s having kids (no judgment to those that are whatsoever), that meant a shorter window for making babies. Think about it, to start: GETTING pregnant can take a lot of time. It took us 2 years to conceive our first. Then there’s the whole being pregnant for 9 months. NINE MONTHS people. That’s a minimum of 1 year of your life from start to finish; longer if the trying stages take more time.

Our ages vs. our siblings. My brother is 6 years younger than I am, and while my husbands middle brother is only 2 years younger, he has another brother who is 10 years younger. The world that we each grew up in, despite being in the same family and being raised similarly, has made it hard to have close relationships. We played outside and rode our bikes, and got dirty, etc…they played indoors, on computers or gaming consoles.  We did not want that kind of gap and disconnect between our kids.

Siblings for H. We definitely considered the age gaps between our kids ^^, but most importantly—even if larger age gaps were created—we knew we did not want little miss to be an only child. We may have had a “lifetime” between us and our siblings, but having someone else to grow and be creative with, not to mention to help care for, completely helped mold who we are today. And after watching her grow and build relationships with other littles at school, and seeing how deprived she is at home with that type of relationship, it was even more clear she needed a sibling.

Our careers. Although I left my job to open my own consulting business, we were both in a very comfortable place with our jobs to feel financially secure enough to bring another child into the world. While happy accidents do happen, this is always something we will try to always consider before knowingly growing our family.

Our comfort level as a parent. Being a parent is hard work. All parents know this; and if you’re not yet a parent, or choose not to be, then take our word for it: HARD. WORK. No paying job will ever compare to fully caring for another human being. Throw in the fact that we had a preemie for our FIRST child. New parents + preemie baby = finding your parenting groove fast and hard. Little miss has been a whirlwind of parenting firsts and we have learned a LOT. From mentally overcoming HOW my child arrived in this world (a few details here) to her constant health troubles due to her early arrival, a helmet wearing experience, and just learning how to communicate with a young child. Trust me when I say, we were more than prepared to add to our family.

Because we wanted to. Despite our other logical, well-thought reasons above, we simply wanted to add to our family. This is a very personal decision to make, and one we chose. After experiencing a loss of our own, and knowing others who have experienced the same or those that aren’t able to have children as easily…our ability to have children is a complete blessing. I wish others would see it that way and less of a burden—because even if it IS a burden, its ours to bare, not anyone else’s. We enjoy being parents and would not want a life without either of our babies.

Life Interrupted

 

Life has a funny way of getting interrupted by, well…life. And while I would absolutely never change my position of being a mother for anything in the world, parenting has to be at the top of the list of reasons as to why life can unexpectedly change course. With or without your permission.


About a week ago I began reading Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love. I was eager to read after hearing so much about it on her Facebook page, and through the gracious recommendations of other women I know. I felt like something was drawing me to this book, so I topped my nightly priority list with reading it.

I made it to chapter 6 before the exhaustion of the day came over me and I set it aside to read again the following night. Only, my daughter had surgery to place tubes in her ears that morning, and with any hope (since my daughter hasn’t slept through the night since before she was 1—a little over 3 months at this point) I opted to take advantage of the fact that I might potentially be able to sleep through the night myself. Less the number of potty breaks from growing another human inside me, of course. The good news: I was right. I was able to sleep through the night right along with her, so my book reading quickly became a distant priority.

The priority of this reading continued to fall as the days went on, and as the new-found time/freedom of being able to stay up later filled my internal “to-do” list with other things…like actually having dinner with my husband without our child screaming at us as we shoveled food into our mouths, or starting a load of laundry in attempts to make a dent in the (what feels like) 10 loads that actually need to be done, loading/unloading the dishes and getting the kitchen fully clean so as not to add to the filth the next morning and only create new filth. This was our life…But like all good things, they must come to an end.

The weekend following her surgery came to a crumbling halt, right along with our seemingly good fortune, when our “brand new” child—who really, truly was sleeping through the night!—was only knocked down again with a horrible case of croup: something she’s never experienced, but is by far one of the worst things we’ve encountered; especially at this toddler age where crying/squirming, and being uncommunicative makes helping practically impossible. After a trip to the ER, back to sleepless nights, and being panic stricken while trying to find an emergency, in-home babysitter so I can continue to bring home a paycheck—I had already missed so much work from her tube surgery—I felt myself beginning to crumble.

As I stood in the shower, realizing it had easily been over 48 hours since I had brushed my teeth (hey, at least I got a shower..) I thought back to all of the things that I’ve touched on above and wondered why I couldn’t just handle it like so many others. Why couldn’t I put on my big girl panties and deal with it through kindness and grace instead of misery and selfish empathy. Just why?

I was instantly brought back to Chapter 1 of For the Love (what I hope I’m remembering to be correct) where Jen touches on the element of judgment. I have certainly found myself judging other women as a whole, and also other mothers…both things I’ve worked very hard to let go and remind myself that I don’t know their life, their battles or struggles and, while I have my own opinion about things, I should not look down on those who have opposing ones; despite what they may be.

However, what I was not prepared to reflect on and take to so incredibly personal—especially while showering—was the fact that I need to let go of that same judgment of myself. If I can let go of the standards/expectations in which I judge myself, I should certainly be able to let go of them for others…and vise versa. But that alone is a major challenge. How does one simply stop setting expectations in which they must meet personally, or else see themselves as failures in efforts to successfully reach those goals in the future?

With social media taking over our lives, it’s easier now than ever to silently look into the lives of others and determine what kind of people you think they are by what they are posting. Are they educated or ignorant by what/how they type, are they healthy/active by the workout photos & healthy meals they share, are they respectable people/parents based on the family-friendly status updates and professional photographs of their family or young children? The same things we think about before posting on social media is similarly out there for others to think/judge on their own accord.

Although my intentions are always true, I cannot deny the fact that before I post I think long and hard about how the information/photos will be received by others. I do feel like this is a respectable thing to do (to a degree) because too often people say/share things they probably shouldn’t, but the sensory comes mostly because of the judgment of myself and what others might think. See, how does one stop this?

At this moment, I can tell you that “I don’t know” how to stop this, but what I do know is I’m willing to try. I’m willing to tell myself it’s ok we don’t eat home cooked meals 6 out of 7 nights as I’d like, and that it’s ok to eat a freezer meal, or fast food, or even a bowl of cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Or that by not having professional photos of our family, or child, does not make us bad parents. Or that despite my love for being crafty, I will never have the time to hand make any wanted item until my children are at or above the age of 5. These are only some things that I have to work on, but am committing to; and in turn I will refrain from judging my friends and other mothers/women who retain the abilities to do these things when I cannot.

There are only so many things I can balance on my beam called life, so it’s all about choosing what I can manage and accomplish successfully, without preconceived notions about what that success looks like based on the accomplishments of others. And while I know my days/weeks will continue to be long, I will strive to find comfort in knowing I’m doing the best I can with what I have—anything more than that is a bonus.

Happy balancing ya’ll.