The Balancing Act: Trying To Do It All

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Photo Credit

It’s been pretty quiet around the bog lately. K and I set big goals for ourselves earlier this year and, frankly, we’ve been falling short the past few months. So what’s been getting in the way?

What else? Life.

Sometimes I watch with envy as my kids watch a movie or play make-believe while I sweep, scrub, and shine the floor beneath their feet. My movements don’t phase them. It’s as if they don’t even see me—in much the same way, I suppose, I was entirely unaware of my own mother working hard in the midst of Barbie pageants and play-doh sessions.

Back then, my afternoons were often spent in the gym, where my biggest concern was the latest new skill I was working toward. All of my focus, all of my energy, went toward conquering a personal goal. Whether it was a new tumbling pass or a new release skill on bars, I grew to love that feeling of accomplishment.

Of course, it was easier then. I was unconcerned with the logistics of how I would get to and from practice. I didn’t have to worry about paying the tuition or whether there would be a new leotard when an old one was outgrown. Everything was provided for. I was capable of boundless energy because it wasn’t being drained by the practicalities of daily life.

The same can’t be said anymore. And while I could go through the litany of reasons why our keyboards have gone silent, the reality is that most of them (on my end, at least) are perfectly ordinary: work, kids, cleaning, sickness. Somehow, I seem to have entered one of those phases where putting one foot in front of the other becomes the goal. But I’ve been here before. I know it is exactly that—a phase—and that, eventually, loads will lighten, a measure of calm will return, and my neglected computer will get some use again.

But, for now, I will listen to my body and try to practice the art of self-care; because when this night owl is routinely ready for bed at 8:30, it’s obvious that something is up!

Although it’s difficult for me to quiet the anxious voices in my mind and “waste” an opportunity to write by choosing to sleep or indulge in a new show (check out The Crown on Netflix!), the truth is, I am only able to do so because of the invaluable lessons learned in that gym of my youth.

To this day, stepping onto a balance beam feels like home. It was always my favorite, though not best, event. I loved the grip of suede beneath my feet and the chalk lines that mapped out the progression of my routine. Any gymnast will tell you that beam is just as much a mental game as it is physical, resulting in an eternal love-hate relationship.  But there were always lessons to be learned when stepping onto a beam, lessons that would serve me well long after walking away from the gym. For instance, throwing an aerial cartwheel in competition for the first time was an absolutely terrifying experience. But it was also a formative one, with the subsequent bruises down my legs reminding me that fear can quickly override focus.

All these years later, that four-inch slab of wood continues to be an efficient, if sometimes painful, teacher. When thinking back on how physically exhausted I have been these past few months, I’m reminded that rearranging priorities is nothing new for me. It was ingrained long ago in a park district gym that will always hold a piece of my heart.

You see, beam routines are timed in competition. From the moment a gymnast first touches the apparatus, a stopwatch ticks down to the final salute. A warning bell is sounded as she nears the end but if she fails to dismount within the allotted time, a deduction is applied to her score.

A particularly difficult tumbling connection might require an extra moment of concentration. A large balance check might eat away precious moments, as could a press handstand that takes longer than expected to complete. Endless unforeseen complications can arise in even the most well-planned routine.

So what’s a girl to do? Improvise, of course.

Eventually, this becomes instinctive to a young gymnast. She knows what elements absolutely cannot be excluded, and how to cut out excess choreography. She can adjust her tempo to make up time, or decide to give up a bonus skill for the benefit of a long, calming “I can do it” breath. She rearranges, prioritizes, sacrifices.

Every once in a while, she will fail to fit it all in and end up taking the deduction—and she won’t be happy about it. But more often than not, her feet will hit the mat just in time. She may be annoyed that her well-drilled routine didn’t go as planned. There will always be something with which she finds fault. After all, the competitive spirit is a restless one.

But at the end of the day, whether a medal finds its way around her neck or not, she will have accomplished more than most could even imagine. While a crowd watched her “flawed” routine in awe, she silently chastised herself for a poor performance. It’s an odd dichotomy isn’t it?

It’s something I try to keep in mind in these hazy early years of motherhood: even when I think I’m failing, even when my perfect plans are shattered, my little audience of sticky-fingered minions are watching in awe, amazed at the tasks I relegate to the mundane. Waking up in 2am to quell a nightmare or planning an afternoon at the splash park might seem exactly that. But to them, it’s everything. Everything.

And sometimes it takes rearranging carefully laid plans. Sometimes it means giving myself a breather and letting the laundry linger. Lately, it has meant putting some distance between myself and my keyboard, because I just can’t fit everything into the set amount of time I’m given each day. And when my aching bones signal the warning bell, I cut out the excess elements and put an end to the routine.

These days, I’m only competing against myself and am lucky enough to have the cutest little audience watching my every move. Sometimes I fall and get discouraged but, like that aerial cartwheel taught me all those years ago, success is unattainable without focus. So I try to give myself a measure of grace. I try to allow my body time to heal when it is overworked. And then I get right back at it–because life is one big balancing act and I’ve always loved the challenge.

  • C

What it’s Like When Your Child is Sick …

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Today my son is 3 months old. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting today. As most parents say, 3 months seems to have gone incredibly fast. But this time is also different. While, it has seemed fast, it also somehow feels like a lifetime ago when we were told our son needed life saving surgery.

I was pregnant in Japan where I got an ultrasound at every single appointment. This means I had an ultrasound at least every 4 weeks and after 28 weeks I had one every two. Not one of those ultrasounds raised eyebrows and my pregnancy was completely normal.

On February 16th, we welcomed our baby boy into the world. All seemed normal for the first several days, no issues. About 6 days after he was born we started being suspicious of his breathing but babies do weird breathing things so we let it slide. But the next day his lips started getting darker and his breathing seemed very labored. We were so blessed that my mom was there, who is a nurse, and told us we needed to go in. We went to the base clinic, and within 15 minutes they had us out the door to a Japanese hospital (there’s no American hospital on the base we were at). At this point we were still pretty calm and collected. We figured maybe he had pneumonia or swallowed fluid during the delivery and would need some antibiotics and we’d be on our way. But that’s definitely not what happened…

The Japanese hospital staffed quickly took him away from us for testing. They wouldn’t allow us to go with him and we had to sit in a hot, humid hallway waiting to hear something for the longest 30 minutes of our lives. The translator hadn’t yet arrived when a doctor comes out saying Cooper needed an operation. One of the most difficult parts of our experience was not speaking the same language. It wasn’t their fault, and not ours, but it was extremely frustrating.

Our baby boy was sedated, intubated, and sent to the ICU. The next morning he was transported by ambulance to Nagasaki Hospital, a little over an hour from where we lived, where he had surgery for a diaphragmatic hernia with sac. Essentially his diaphragm had not fully developed correctly. This hindered his breathing and had pushed several organs, including his heart into the wrong spots.

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I don’t think I’ll be able to properly describe the feeling of being told your newborn is sick. It feels like all the air has been sucked out of the room. It feels like you have a million questions but can barely open your mouth. It feels like you would sacrifice absolutely anything so that this tiny, innocent, perfect, baby wouldn’t have to endure any pain. It’s needing your husbands arms more than you ever had before. It’s the scariest moment of your life.

At just 8 days old he had his surgery. He spent 4 days in the ICU, and the next 3.5 weeks on a regular ward. You expect to be exhausted the first month of a newborns life, but this was exhaustion in a new form. It’s emotional exhaustion.

I would spend 2-3 days with our son while my husband stayed with our daughter. Every couple days we’d switch.I’d drive the hour home to spend 24 hours with her and then come back. I know an hour doesn’t sound long but it always dragged on. My heart hurt leaving which ever child I was leaving, yet I was anxious to get to the other one. My husband and I were ships passing in the night with a quick kiss and supportive hug. Again, my mom was a God send, changing her return flight twice to help fill in the spaces for those first weeks, especially while Coop was in the hospital.

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At one point, an x-ray showed his diaphragm had risen again meaning the surgery had been unsuccessful. Upon going forward with a CT scan they found that the diaphragm was fine and it was just a collapsed lung. JUST a collapsed lung. When in the world, would I have ever thought it was actually a positive thing my son had a collapsed lung? But that was actually a victory.

The whole experience was frustrating and exhausting. Some days you feel hopeful and completely fine. Then the smallest piece of unwelcome news unravels you fast. There’s guilt for not being with your other child more, missing your husband on a whole new level, and constant worrying all the time. There’s agony and longing for your family to just be whole and under the same roof. There were moments of numbness, and moments of non stop tears. I often wouldn’t answer the phone to family and friends checking in because talking was either too exhausting or I couldn’t even start without crying. On top of it all, was the confusion of a language barrier, and different customs (Japanese hospitals are ran very different then we do it in the U.S.).

That month was without a doubt the hardest of our lives. But along the way we had more blessings than we can count. You learn fast to allow people to help no matter how unnatural it feels for you. And we had lots of help. So much love and support from an amazing community of people. Although there was a language barrier, our son’s doctors and nurses were some of the most wonderful people we’ve ever met. I may not have always understood every word they were saying but I knew, without a doubt, my son was in good hands.

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The whole experience was also eye-opening and heart opening. While this was the scariest, most confusing, frustrating, and exhausting time of our lives, in the grand scheme Cooper’s condition wasn’t THAT big of a deal. He needed the surgery to save his life but he should go on to live a completely healthy one now. Not everyone is that fortunate. My heart breaks for families going on months or years in the hospital. The toll it takes is a big one. It has forever changed the way we will step up for families in need and the hospitals taking care of them. It changes the way you take things in. Every time he’s crying, or my oldest is whining, it’s easier to look past because the first thought I have in my mind is, “if they’re crying and whining it means they’re alive and here with me”.

That seemingly never ended month did in fact end. So fast yet a lifetime ago has never been more true. The first weeks of his life will forever be with us. Tonight, I will be praying for all the families and kids wondering how they’re going to make it through the next day. If you are the parent of a sick child, I know from experience, that there are really no good words to say. But I also know that you are a fighter. You are strong. Most of the time you may feel like all your energy is depleted and that you could crumble at any minute, but you have drive, determination, and a fierceness that most will never know.

I will never forget how fortunate we were, how far we’ve come in such a short time, and tomorrow morning I will be eternally grateful to wake up to a healthy, rather chubby, smiling little guy.

• K

What a Sick Day Looks Like for a Stay At Home Mom…

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So it happened. Of course it did. Not one week into being a stay at home mom, I got sick. And not stuffy, sluggish, sinusy, general blah feeling crap. I can handle that stuff like a champ. I’m talking full on bug bit me out of no where creating 24 longer than ever hours of excruciating misery.

Ya see, 3 months ago as a working mom, this would have gone a lot differently. I would have woken up feeling miserable, my husband would have taken the kids to daycare, work responsibilities would be put aside, and I would get to ride out my 24 hours barely moving, cuddled under blankets, sleeping and catching up on Netflix.

But circumstances are different now, you can’t put off the responsibility of being a parent; and by 9:30 in the morning I already wanted to cry. You can’t sit on the couch like a blob when you have an 1.5 year old and a 2 month old. There’s diapers to be changed and bellies to be fed. I was out so hard though that walking the 20 feet to the bedroom and lifting a child up on to the changing pad to change a diaper felt comparable to the half marathon I ran.

Here’s the thing, my children are EASY! And they must have felt my pain because they were even more exceptionally easy. They both took 3 hour naps around the same time and when they were awake were way less needy than normal. And given all that, it was still miserable! I can’t imagine having a kid who was sick at the same time or a colicky baby or just an ultra energetic child on that kind of day.

Let me tell you how the day panned out. No one made it out of pajamas from the night before. The baby was relegated to the swing for almost the entirety of the day with the exception of his 10 minute feedings. As for my toddler, I made sure all the doors were closed and anything was up that could be dangerous and then I let her run amok until she was quiet for too long, forcing me to lift my 500 lb. head. She survived on food packs and crackers for lunch and time between diaper changes were stretched for a longer duration than I care to admit.

People, this shit was hard. I’m brand new at this stay at home parent life and it was my first slap in the face in realizing stay at home parents are superheroes. Trying to keep two kids alive when you feel like death yourself is a heavy task. By the grace of God, at the end of the day, both kids did survive and I somehow managed to as well. I woke up the next morning extremely grateful that the nasty bite decided to leave after 24 hours instead of lingering on, and that the asshole of a bug left my children unbitten (it’s only been 2 days though so… KNOCK ON WOOD).

A few days ago, I felt like my cape wasn’t in full force, that it was failing me. It felt like it’d been cut, barely able to lift my feet off the ground. But upon further reflection, maybe it’s the hardest days when our capes are the longest. Because if you can get yourself and the kids through days like that (albeit with some questionable parenting) that has to be some kind of superpower, right?

• K

Compromise: I’ll Stop Talking Politics When You Quit Your Leggings Cult

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Sometimes, there are events in life that prove to be a major catalyst for personal change. This past presidential election proved one for me. By early last summer, cursing out my television on a nightly basis was traded in for putting that proverbial pen to paper because, frankly, the only other choice was a straightjacket. The rewards were twofold: channeling my anxieties into a productive endeavor was intensely therapeutic, while my two-year-old became far less likely to drop an ill-timed f-bomb. (Kids say the darnedest things, don’t they?)

Having been met with modest success, I continued to write about politics. For a stay-at-home mom whose definition of success in recent years included showering and other hygiene-related basics, receiving praise for essays on domestic policy and electoral politics felt pretty damn great.

I was like a new woman. Refreshed, ambitious, curious, exploding with energy. It was almost as if tiny humans hadn’t spent the better part of five years performing cruel sleep deprivation experiments on me. Guys, I was flying on top of the world!

That is, well, until the internet police came out in full force. They came dressed in oversized tee-shirts and garishly patterned leggings to inform me that I had been committing some major social media crimes.

Somewhere between marketing their home-based-business every fifteen minutes, these self-appointed officers found time to let me know that my politics were an unwelcome addition to their newsfeed.

And, look, I get it. We’re all mentally exhausted by the monumental clusterfuck that was the 2016 presidential election. But I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of being civic-minded and politically engaged, even more so now that I am a mother. So while I understand that we’re all beyond burnt out on cable news topics, I don’t see the difficulty in simply scrolling past commentary you don’t want to see. Besides, it’s not like I’m posting every fifteen minutes or anything.

I should’ve known that wouldn’t be good enough for the internet police, though.

It started with simple warnings, like the officer who neglects to write a ticket but reminds you of your duties as a responsible driver. It could be worse, sure. But you’re fairly certain you detect a dose of unwelcome condescension. There are the passive aggressive posts, the sudden disinterest in neutral subjects, the “unfollows.” How does one find out about the “unfollows,” you ask? See the aforementioned passive aggressive posts.

All of that may be annoying, mildly deflating even; but it pales in comparison to phase two: community service.

At this point, the legging-clad police officers instantly transformed into a disquieting combination of judge, jury, and infomercial-on-loop.

Despite having been publicly chided and electronically shunned for the impropriety of speaking about politics (the horror!), I found myself bombarded with unending requests to attend live Facebook events. I was added to weirdly enthusiastic groups without consent (like flamingos-on-your-pants-should-be-the-life-goal-of-every-self-respecting-woman kind of weird). I became paranoid that a box of overpriced clothing would appear on my doorstep with a bill at any moment. It was as though I was being strong armed into donating my time, energy, and money toward endeavors deemed worthwhile by the very people actively rebuking my own causes. All this because money knows no political affiliation.

It’s not that I had never been on the receiving end of social media marketing before. But this was different. I had already been dismissed, cast aside for my views. I had essentially been declared useless by people who had once enjoyed my company — useless that is, except for my check book. Where before I could overlook such forceful marketing and move on with my day, I suddenly felt taken advantage of. Each cookie cutter business-related message oozed with a disturbing insincerity that became increasingly difficult to ignore.

(Pro tip: Legging ladies are now as ubiquitous as the Tupperware parties of the 90’s. I can’t stick my foot out without tripping one so, rest assured, being a judgmental jerk will get you replaced in a hurry. You are expendable.)

However much I may disagree with your strategies, I do hear you though. I know you believe social media is best served as a tool for inspirational quotes, lighthearted stories, and, of course, selling merchandise. I am aware that you find discussion of politics (at least those that don’t reverberate through your own echo chamber) to be uncouth, even tacky — a stunning lack of self-awareness from a crowd eager to model leprechaun-clad clothing with a pot of gold buried in the crotch.

Differing fashion senses aside, I’m ready to make peace. So here’s my mea culpa, friends: I’m sorry. I’m sorry that my politics make you uncomfortable…

…but perhaps a little discomfort would do you good.

Making a living off butter-soft pants, it’s understandable that you would eschew any sort of irritation. Hell, your life better be all rainbows and butterflies for the absurd price of some poorly-made polyester-blend fabric.

But while you’re busy clamoring over the newest seasonal prints, it’s important to remember the many people who will never be afforded such luxuries. Their hunger can’t be solved with an “unfollow.” Their sickness can’t be cured with angry-face emojis. Turning a blind eye to their plight doesn’t actually take it away. In fact, your revulsion to being made uncomfortable only perpetuates their unimaginable suffering.

So resist the urge to roll your eyes the next time political commentary makes its way into your newsfeed. Allow yourself to feel uncomfortable. Get used to the feeling, because that’s where growth happens (and also because someday you’ll be forced to slip into denim again).

Just know that I don’t write with the intention of upsetting you. The goal isn’t to be unbearably obnoxious. And, I would suspect, you might say the same of your sales techniques. I write because I feel an obligation to use my voice for change, however small that might be.

Listen, we’re all just doing the best we can. So let’s make a deal: I’ll stop writing about politics when you stop shoving your leggings down my throat.

Good?

Now can we all agree that such a compromise is as useless as bombing a Syrian airfield without destroying the runway? (What? Too soon?)

It’s never going to happen. We’re both passionate about what we do — and that’s okay, because there is no single way to use social media. The internet is big enough for the both of us. So consider putting away that internet police badge for now. It’s divisive, unnecessary, and frankly, it totally clashes with your outfit.

 

  • C

(Originally published on ScaryMommy.com – 14 April 2017)

Love and Velcro

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I recently came upon this wonderful piece by Coffee + Crumbs (Lots of great stuff there! Check it out!) and it immediately brought me back to the early, extraordinarily difficult days with my son. Reminders of that time crop up now and then because, really, the kind of trauma we both endured — and that’s exactly what it was — isn’t easily forgotten, but this particular piece reminded me of how (literally) attached we once were and how far we have come. And with that realization came the kind of validation I had deeply craved during those long lonely days.

From the moment the Pitocin was administered, my little guy made his feelings known. I carried him quite low toward the end of my pregnancy, but once his eviction notice was sent, I swear on everything holy that kid squeezed himself as far up into my ribs as he could. He did not want a scintilla of space between us and spent the entire first year of his life screaming that desire into the cosmos… and my aching ears.

He was my velcro baby — as attached to his mama as a kid could be. And while it may be tempting to imagine such a scenario as blissful days spent snuggling soft baby skin and breathing in that intoxicating baby smell, the reality is nearly the exact opposite. My life was full of blood-curdling screams every.single.moment I set him down to shower, cook, or even sleep. Picking him up usually knocked the noise level down a notch or two but he still cried incessantly. At one low point while my husband was deployed, it literally took me three days to pay a bill over the phone. My screaming velcro baby was stuck to me like glue, messing up the voice prompts and turning a seemingly simple task into a Herculean feat.

Life was hard, desperately hard.

Unfortunately, it was made even worse by a barrage of comments insinuating that I was somehow spoiling him, that responding to his needs was enabling manipulative behavior and that I had brought this difficulty on myself.

But I had lived through the baby years before — quite successfully, in fact. I knew I hadn’t directly caused his clinginess but I was still troubled by the fact that I couldn’t solve it. All the baby books said it required solving, after all. And most everyone in my orbit, his pediatrician included, insisted that the situation required a tough love approach.

It was a rough situation, indeed. After all, he wasn’t the average clingy baby. My boy suffered colic, severe reflux, feeding difficulties, and weight-gain problems. He was in the care of a gastroenterologist by 6 months and in feeding therapy by the time he turned 1. My life seemed little more than a revolving door between various medical offices with varying interpretations for his many maladies. As a mother, the inability to pinpoint his seemingly never-ending pain was gut-wrenching.

So I held him. What else could I do?

I held him when my arms ached and my back winced in pain. I held him as we both cried ourselves to sleep, unable to get the other to understand what we needed. I held him even as every inch of my body screamed for space, for a moment to breathe. But no matter what anyone else said, I held him. He needed it. I could feel it.

All the while, I questioned myself. I wondered why I couldn’t “fix” him and constantly evaluated what I could be doing differently. I stared in confusion at my clingy, irritable child, wondering why he was so high-maintenance when every cell of my body knew he was a calm soul at his core. What kind of mother can’t understand her own baby? Why was there such a disconnect between who I felt he was and the behavior I was seeing?

By his first birthday, my confidence was shattered. Nothing seemed to be getting better.

And then, one ordinary day, it did.

Life marched on — tenuous at first, and then increasingly sure-footed, like the pitter patter of my little boy’s feet as he ventured off to explore the world outside my weary arms.

And you know what? He has never looked back.

Sure, he is still my snuggle bug. After all, I wasn’t wrong about that soft soul of his. Turns out, he is very much like his mama — introspective, sensitive, and affectionate. And despite all the hysteria that holding a baby might cause an unhealthy dependence, at close to 3 years old, my cool little dude is as independent as it gets.

Though I’ll never know for sure, I like to think it’s because I held him through his pain, that I respected his needs even when I felt I had totally lost my way as a mother. We share the bond of the broken, two people who refused to give up even in the darkest of nights.

Eventually, morning came. And it delivered a (finally) happy and healthy little boy.

So while Coffee + Crumb’s essay brought me back to those difficult days, I know we are safely on the other side. Back then, he fought sleep while wailing the hours away in my arms. Tonight? Well, he’s still fighting sleep — but only because he can’t decide which dinosaur he likes more: Tyrannosaurus Rex or Ankylosaurus.

I’ll take it.

Impossible as it seems in the moment, velcro babies eventually grow up. They detach. They explore their world and inch ever further from the physical closeness of you. And that’s when you, too, will have come through the other side. Just hang on, Mama. Let your little one hold on. Cling together through this bumpy ride because velcro is tough, but so are you.

  • C

Rules for the Accidental Stay-at-Home Mom

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Some girls grow up dreaming about being a stay-at-home mom. They relished the idea of snuggling their babies all day, baking delicious chocolate chip cookies, and volunteering at school holiday parties.

Not me.

While I will take baby snuggles whenever I can get them, I honestly always imagined myself in the classroom as the teacher instead of the parent volunteer. And baking just isn’t my thing… the two dozen burned Valentine cookies that ended up in my trash can are testament enough of that.

So when I became a stay-at-home mom, it was…well, a learning experience. Everything I had always believed about myself and my career path suddenly shifted. I was terribly insecure about myself as a mom (I mean, who isn’t?), and unsure of how to navigate a life I had never imagined for myself. It took some time and, while I still struggle here and there, these 4 rules have helped me navigate SAHM mom territory:

1.) Stop Explaining Yourself

Five years into my SAHM mom life, I still have a hard time with this. Maybe it’s because I grew up with two working parents. Maybe it’s because I get antsy about falling into an ill-fitting stereotype. Either way, I find myself explaining our family’s choices more than I care to admit.

On one hand, I know it’s nobody’s business. On the other, well, I’m an insatiably curious and ambitious person with a passion for teaching and making a difference in the lives of others and even though I am intensely grateful for the opportunity to stay home with my kids, I am just as intensely dissatisfied with “wasting” years changing diapers, doing laundry, cleaning up puke, and waiting out temper tantrums because, frankly, I’m jealous of my husband’s career successes and his ability to have adult conversations while I’m stuck trying to decipher what gibberish word my youngest is screaming about while dinner is burning and the oldest is busy reminding me about the swimming class that started two hours ago.

Whew… Did I just black out?

Listen, explanations that lend themselves to horribly constructed run-on sentences just aren’t beneficial for anyone. It might feel good in the moment but you know what’s even better? Feeling at peace with your family decisions even when you aren’t totally content with your professional achievements. Frustration is inevitable but give yourself a break. You are your own harshest critic.

2.) Make a Long-Term Plan

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When you stumble into this lifestyle, it’s easy to fall into a wheel of negativity. There is the pain that comes with isolation, the guilt of feeling discontented, and confusion in the struggle to maintain an identity. Dealing with such heavy emotions is no easy task, especially when our cultural messaging makes confronting them almost taboo. After all, what could possibly be better than staying home with your babies? Well, depending on your personality, a lot of things — and that’s perfectly fine.

Whatever the reasons behind your SAHM status, if the situation feels less-than-ideal, do yourself a favor and make a long-term plan. Is returning to work possible once your kids are in school? How many years will that take? Check out ways in which you can further your education in the meantime so that you’re prepared when the time comes. Keep an eye out for work-from-home opportunities. And, most of all, communicate with your partner so that you are both on the same page.

Taking these steps will help you maintain a sense of accomplishment outside childrearing, while also serving as a reminder that this is only temporary.

3.) Allow Yourself to Tune Out

Buh-Bye, mom shamers! Ignore their judgmental stares and snuggle into a good book or—gasp!—laze away on Facebook while your kiddos entertain themselves on the playground. It goes without saying that you’ll keep an eye on them but, let’s be real, kids are pretty adept at playtime. They really really don’t need your help. And because your job literally never ends, it’s important to allow yourself a mental break here and there. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

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I mean, look up at least once in a while…

4.) Don’t Let Your Interests Die

I know, I know. Easier said than done, right? Especially if you have a difficult baby or are in the throes of toddlerhood (somebody save me…). Maybe the only pastimes you can recall include watching Dora the Explorer on repeat and emptying diaper pails but, believe it or not, you existed for many years prior to becoming a mother. Get back to that girl. Self-care is crucial for all moms, and that includes being selfish enough with your time to pursue the hobbies you once loved.

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Get out in nature (check out the Osprey if your kiddo is still tiny!), read a good book during nap time instead of worrying about the dishes, or sign up for a fun dance class. Hell, start a blog so you can indulge in topics outside of Dr. Seuss and Paw Patrol. But find something you enjoy doing and learn how to put yourself first every once in a while. After all, part of being a SAHM is modeling the kind of behavior you want your kids to emulate, right? Take the opportunity to show them that self-care is not selfish. It is a lesson that will have far-reaching impact.

When you’re an accidental stay-at-home mom, digesting the guilt of yearning for a career while trying to enjoy the fleeting precious moments of childhood, life can feel unsettled. The journey isn’t an easy one but it can certainly be made easier. What are your thoughts? Is there anything you would add to this list?

  • C

 

 

 

 

The Sweet (and Exhausting) Arrival of a New Little One

 

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If you’ve been following our Facebook page at all, you saw that C apologized for our lack of posts and being quiet but that we both soon would have some exciting news to share.

And mine is that we have FINALLY welcomed the newest addition to our family. My baby boy was born on the 16th of February. Lots of people have already said “aw wouldn’t it have been cute if he was born on Valentine’s Day?”. I for one though, am so relieved he wasn’t! Sure, it’s sweet for the first few years maybe. But then how much would that have sucked for him as an adult? Having to wine and dine someone else on his day! I’m quite happy that he dodged that date.

Ya know what I wasn’t happy about though? That he was late. C mentioned we’ve been quiet. Well, I’ve been very quiet because I was moody as all hell. I couldn’t even think about writing because I didn’t even want to talk to anyone. (I can’t say enough how grateful I am to my sister for keeping this blog and our Facebook moving forward) Any other mamas out there know the feeling of wanting to respond like a fire breathing dragon when someone asks the question, “How are you doing?”. But you can’t, because well, people are just being nice. And the truth is, if no one asked how I was doing, that would probably have upset me too. Nevertheless, well meaning texts from friends received my icy one word answers and FaceTime calls simply went ignored. I finally sent a text to my closest friends saying I was crabby, didn’t want to talk and that they were my friends so they could forgive me later! I think the lesson here is that there is no pleasing a woman past her due date!

But now he is here, and I am back to being the more cheerful version of myself, if not the much more exhausted. My daughter was a great sleeper from day one. This one on the other hand has his days and nights confused. I have a feeling he’s going to get turned around just in time for us to move back to the states. On the other hand, he’s an amazing eater! Baby boy was born big at 8 lbs 13 oz. If you don’t know, I’m in Japan and gave birth in a Japanese hospital. Their babies are about 5 to 6 lbs at birth so the doctors and nurses can’t stop commenting on my oversized baby. He just keeps getting bigger too! Ya know how most babies lose weight at first? Not this guy, he hasn’t lost an ounce and just keeps growing. Breastfeeding with my daughter was a struggle the whole time, a constant fight, and exhausting. It is amazing what a weight off the shoulders it is for it to be easy this time around.

The breastfeeding and sleeping aren’t the only differences between my kids. My daughter was content from day one. In fact, often times, putting her down in her bouncy chair stopped her crying. It’s like she felt she just needed her own time and space. And at almost 18 months old, she still is that way. So far, baby boy is the exact opposite. He is hating the bassinet but the second he’s picked up he’s content as can be. I know we’re only five days in, and he’ll be changing a lot (as my daughter will continue to also). But on the other hand, we’re only 5 days in and there’s already such clear differences in them! I find it so interesting and I’m fascinated to see their differences and similarities continue to emerge.

My daughter seems to be teeter tottering on the role of best friend or arch enemy. The first time she met him she gently patted his head enough for us adults to let our guards down before wacking him on the head. I’m happy to say the next meeting (we’re still in the hospital) she requested to hold him and then hugged him without any prompting. We’ll see how she does when she realizes later today he’s coming home to stay for good!

So, I know I’ve had nothing profound to say today. Just wanted to share the exciting update over here. There are so many changes happening right now as I’ve said before. Welcoming a new baby, having my last baby enter toddlerhood, taking on a stay at home mom role for at least the next 8 months, husband deploying, and us moving back to the states. It’s a lot to take on. But as I sit here and write this my baby boy is curled up on me looking up at me and I know that even though my hands are full, my heart is much, much fuller.

• K