Tips for Air Travel with Kids: A Weekend Getaway with the Minis

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This past weekend we celebrated my Grandaddy’s 80th birthday on the beach in Huntington Beach, CA. What a gorgeous spot! It is, however, not very close to Oklahoma. We were only able to go for two nights, although I’m sure the Southwest gate agent thought we were moving. After four flights, two nights and some serious traffic on the 405, I have some tips and lessons learned from our first flying trip as a family of four.

The Stroller was mostly a hassle.

Have you ever tried to push a stroller on sand? Of course you haven’t because I’m sure you have a better understanding of physics than I. I brought our double stroller thinking two kids, lots of stuff, containment is key. The stroller got used one time in California and only as a single (I popped the second seat off). The snack tray got damaged. Which is slightly annoying but I should have removed it before anyway (ie my fault). I ended up wearing my infant daughter most of the time or just carrying her on my hip. It was nice for storing all of our carry-on crap while in the airport, but other than that I’ll take the umbrella stroller or nothing next time.

We rented one car seat and brought another.

We have a cheap Cosco car seat from Prime Day last year that we use for travel. It’s a touch wide on the airplane, but its super light. My husband wore it on his back in a backpack style bag that we also loaded down with one of my carry-ons for boarding. My two year old son sat in it on the planes. He was able to be contained, comfortable and sleep for 2 of the 4 flights. While getting it on and off was a bit of a challenge (thanks for family boarding, Southwest) as it has to be lifted up over the tops of the seats to clear the aisle space, I think a strapped down toddler is worth it.  For my daughter, we rented a car seat from the rental car company. It was no frills, but one less thing to bring. We will probably repeat this pattern until my son can sit independently in a seat. Other things to keep in mind:

-The car seat has to be in the window seat on the plane as to not obscure the path to the exits in case of an emergency. Also, the seat has to be buckled into the airplane seat. Something to consider for tight connections.

-They are free to gate check if you change your mind, either to your next connection or final destination.

-Airlines are responsible for loss, but not damage to car seats that are checked. Our infant seat’s canopy got cracked a while back which is why I don’t travel with that anymore.

Zip-top Totes are a Must.

Not sure what I was thinking when I initially packed our carry-on bags. I put the majority of items in a large leather tote bag I have, thinking it would double as a beach bag. This bag contained the diaper bag basics, some extra clothes, toys, electronics, etc. While I organized everything into Ziploc baggies, after one flight of items spilling into the aisle, I wish I would have brought a cheap backpack instead. For the return flights, I took everything we didn’t use out of the carry-ons and placed it in checked luggage. I had everything we needed, but I could have done with a lot less. The MVP’s were for my two year old: Amazon Fire Tablet with “Super Simple Songs” downloaded, a Melissa and Doug Water Wow, and DumDums. (Screen time and bribery rules get suspended for us during flights). For my 7 month old daughter: her sleep sack, extra formula (she seemed to eat more to help her ears), and the safety instruction card, haha.

Staying Relaxed is Hard, yet Vital.

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My kids could 150% tell when I was getting tense, and their behavior reflected it. Of course no one in the world wants to be the parent of the screaming child on a plane, but sometimes there is nothing you can do. Travel means missed naps, late bedtimes, and too much sugar (see above). We have rules for behavior like any family, but sometimes you have to give in a little when you are asking tiny people to comply with plans they did not make. I tend to get super uptight during these situations where I have little control, so on the first flight I had a glass of wine. Yes, it was way over priced and not very good and also quite possibly a judgement worthy moment on my part. But you know what? We were all calmer when mom was calmer. Travel is supposed to be fun.

Now we’re home with more laundry than should be possible given our short trip, but I could not be more pleased to have spent that special time with my family in such a beautiful setting. Aside from a toppled coffee cup at breakfast and some limited, yet impressive whining the trip was a great success. Can’t wait to see where we go next!8FD77F77-BF14-431B-91A9-3417D1A5B529.jpeg

What are your tried and true travel tips with kids?

The Nostalgia of Summer

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“We only get eighteen summers with our children.”

I have seen that quote ubiquitously splashed across social media as of late. Quotes like this tend to have the ability to make my heart bleed that I will not have tiny babies forever while simultaneously making my mom guilt shift into over drive. Sweet bedtime snuggles and fireworks reflected in awestruck eyes will fade into clipped college phone calls home for conversations about the “real world”. In my limited time as a mother “the days are long, but the years are short” is holding more true than anything else.

Often I find that well-meaning individuals, with the benefit of both an uninterrupted night sleep and roughly twenty years of hind sight will tell me to enjoy this time because it is so fleeting. The intent is sweeter than the mixed emotions that inevitably bubble up inside in response. There is nothing worse than someone telling you to enjoy something that is a challenge. A sweet struggle for certain, but a challenge nonetheless.  Of course everything worth anything is at one point or another a struggle. Motherhood is no exception.

With the Forth in our very recent rearview mirrors, I am transported back to my own childhood frequently. Lazy days of 600 minute summer reading challenges, filling up on sugary popsicles (before social media would declare you an unfit parent for that level of sucrose ingestion. Simpler times.) Days spent babysitting and evenings spent catching fireflies. What I do not remember is my mother being frustrated by hauling wet towels, making dinner that no one ate, or missed naps due to schedule disruptions. In talking with her now, undoubtedly these moments occurred. One of my greatest hopes is that my children see their childhood summers through the same albeit likely rose colored glasses of my own.

With this goal in mind, I want to make some summer resolutions. I have pretty much given up on all of my New Year’s goals: Get in shape (I’m playing the two babies in two years card), be a kinder person (this is a lifetime goal, there’s no timeline. Also, my sass streak runs deep), and spend less (one word: Target). New summer resolutions are as follows:

Get my hair wet.

Yesterday, Ben asked me to run in the sprinkler. And I did it. My full sized booty even went down the Little Tikes slide despite the clearly marked weight restriction flying off the end in a fit of giggles.

Be flexible.

We are a pretty strict bedtime house because that is literally one of the main reasons I stay sane doing bedtime alone so often. This summer, I will strive to let some of this slide for some specials occasions, but not every day. Mama’s gotta stay sane after all.

Say yes.

I counted the other morning how many times I said no before lunch. I lost count by breakfast. This summer I want to say yes to silly games, pickles with breakfast, and all the playing. I also want to say yes for me to relaxation, really good dessert without a guilt hangover, or a solo run.

I challenge you to come up with your own list of summer goals. After all we only get eighteen summers. And maybe, if we are really lucky we’ll get some beautiful summers experiencing parenting from the other side of early child hood. I bet that is pretty sweet too!

#Momfail Monday: Meet Cassie

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Cassie is mom to Trey (age 2), rounding out the end of her first trimester with baby number two, and married to perfectionist, Craig.  Cassie works part time in direct sales for a high end candle company and Craig is an attorney. Monday is Trey’s first day of Mother’s Day Out. These are their stories.

Monday

6:00 am

“ZZZzzzzzzzz” the buzzing sound of Craig’s electric razor wakes me up every morning. Yes, I am pregnant and have a toddler, but it’s my husband’s neuroses that rip me from the Sandman every morning. I am twelve weeks pregnant tomorrow, but feel about thirty this second go around. BUT! But, today is Trey’s first day of Mother’s Day Out. I can drop him off and have five blissful hours to straighten the house, get some work done to please my upline, and maybe finally do that prenatal yoga DVD fossilizing in my living room. The world is my oyster…well, if I could eat oysters.

9:15 am

I snap the obligatory first day of school photo where Trey looks like he is simultaneously being tortured and preparing for a career as an serial killer. I quickly upload to Instagram, tagging Craig, while wondering why toddlers have an aversion to normal smiles that rivals my fetus’s aversion to all meat. I walk him in prepared for tears and “Don’t leave me, Mommy” only to be met with the cold shoulder. I have the least clingy toddler of all times.

10:45 am

I am going to go through Starbucks, in the middle of the day!! Reckless! I love it. I did a little work on my phone in the parking lot of the school (after a good hormonal cry) so I am already feeling productive. That and I need a super sugary, chemical laden coffee dessert, since now that *eyeroll* Craig is keto and *eyeroll* just loving it, bulletproof coffee is the only coffee in our home. Le sigh. At least it’s better than his cabbage diet phase. He stunk. And since I’m among friends, his current abs and my current hormones have been *cough cough* good for our relationship.

2:15 pm

I pried my eyes open to my phone chiming incessantly. Who knew it was possible to sleep that hard after a giant coffee. Pregnant girls, that’s who. Apparently, Mallory had to call the police on the boys today in the hardware store parking lot. Poor Mal, always embarrassing herself. Oh crap! I have to be at the school in seven minutes. I have to beat all of the Lulu clad (yet also perfectly made up) moms into the school.

2:22 pm

With a screech of my breaks, I ramble into the school realizing I am wearing my house shoes (the ones that Muffin, our St. Bernard chewed up but I love too much to toss) with my carefully selected “casual chic” mom dress. Oh well, maybe no one will notice. I collect my child and his incessant personalized PB kids crap that Craig insisted I purchase so that we looked “appropriate” for school. His sweet, albeit a little bit matronly, teacher pulls me aside and all the color drains from my face. Of course in lean all of the perfectly manicured, blonde, gossip loving, suburban driving, future PTA running SAHMs. Oh no! He hit. He bit. He shit. He did something even worse than my incredibly vivid imagination can fathom. Surreptitiously, his teacher, after a too long glance at my slippers, hands me a zip lock bag. “This, dear, was wrapped up in Trey’s nap mat.” Contained in that mini sandwich bag was a hot pink lacey thong with the word “SEXY” written in rhinestones across the butt. Cause of death: Embarrassment.

Happy Monday, Cassie.

The Gratitude Attitude: Shifting Perspectives of Stay-At-Home Mommin’

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I love being a stay at home mom. That does not mean I love everything about it. Especially recently, as I await the birth of my second child, I have been struggling with who I am outside of the definition of mom. I am a wife too. But what else? Where are the qualities that are uniquely me? These kind of questions are so important to ask, but the guilt and feelings of selfishness that come along with them are not easy. In a conversation with my sweet husband a while back, he asked if I would rather go back to work. A simple question that should have made me feel like the possibilities for our current arrangement could shift if that would make us happier as a family. Namely, my sweet hubby, was asking what can we do to make you happier? I should have been over joyed and called some sort of awards sales place to get his name etched on a Husband of the Year trophy. Instead, I got upset and offended. Am I doing a terrible job staying home? Is that why he wants me to go back to work? I could have an Olympic medal in reading into statements incorrectly. After some calming down and clarification. Ahhh clarification, the WD40 of relationships. I complained that while I loved being home for each of the milestones of our son, sometimes I felt like I wasn’t using my brain and didn’t feel as fulfilled as I thought I would being a stay at home mom. My husband in all of his brilliance asked, “Did you really expect to be fulfilled by dishes?? They call staying home a job because its work.”

Guys, I am calling the trophy dealer. He may just be a genius. I keep coming back to this statement of brilliance when I am having a particularly rough day. It’s work. But good news is, there is joy in work! A sense of accomplishment. Getting sloppy kisses from my son is a gift. That is not work and I don’t intend to take the flexibility of our situation for granted. It is truly a huge blessing that we can make my staying home work for our family. My challenge is the gratitude attitude. I don’t have to enjoy each toilet ring to enjoy being a stay at home mom. My goal this Thanksgiving season is to find an attitude shift in my top 5 least favorite household and mothering tasks. So here it goes:

  • Waking up Early: I was a night shift nurse for almost a decade. I loveeee to sleep in. That genetic predisposition was not inherited by my offspring. 6:30am is a late check out at Hotel Redmon. Attitude shift: My son is always so happy to see me. I am very lucky to generally get to be the first person to hug him each morning. Bring on the end of Day Light Savings!
  • Toddler Tantrums: This is a new phase for us. I think a lot of my frustration here comes from the fact that sometimes I also want to lay on the floor of Target and scream. I, however, have language skills. I am thankful that I can communicate my feelings (usually) in order to have my needs met.
  • Laundry: Laundry is super gratifying once it’s all folded and put away. I have one (ONE) disciplined chore that I do on the same day every week like my grandmother (mother of eight!). I change my sheets on Tuesdays. I love Tuesdays. I feel accomplished even if all I do around the house is make the bed, I know I will sleep better.
  • Changing Dirty Diapers: A regular child is a happy child. No one likes to be backed up. I will attempt to laugh to myself and think of the book “Everybody Poops”.
  • Toddler Meals Spilled Purposefully onto a Freshly Cleaned Floor: This one is really hard for me. Thank goodness we have a dog without a discerning palate. The issue is several fold for me. I cooked the food and now you destroyed it, made a mess and are likely still hungry. Especially as the months get colder, I will remind myself to be thankful that I have a home to clean up and enough food to make another PBJ. He is only little for just a little while.

So I am not fulfilled by dishes? Oh well. I am still a good mother. As long as I try to shift my attitude to gratitude I bet I find more fulfillment than I thought possible in this work.

#Momfail Monday: Meet Emily

kyle-nieber-635997-unsplashEmily is a first time mom to eight week old daughter, Celeste. She is on maternity leave for the next four weeks from her job as physical therapist. Her husband John is an extremely devoted husband and new father. John left for a six month deployment yesterday. As much as it was amazing to have John on leave for Celeste’s birth, learning to navigate new motherhood on her own is a challenge. These are her stories.

Monday

9:47 am

My pounding head suggests a hangover, but I haven’t had a drop of alcohol save the quarter glass of champagne I had night one home from the hospital. Must be the eleven, that right eleven times Celeste woke up last night. That’s once most hours and twice some hours. Imprinted into my face is a elephant shaped Wubbanub and my iPhone. The open search history on my dying laptop displays sleep training tips, attachment parenting tips, free range parenting tips, when is it okay to self soothe tips and midnight cookie delivery services. One eye open I nurse Celeste for the 8 millionth time thinking how beautiful this little sleep-hating monster really is. I am going to get something, anything done today. After I nap again. They do say sleep when the baby sleeps.

2:32pm

Ok! I’ve napped the day away along side Celeste. Time for us both to eat. My 4 am microwave burrito isn’t keeping mama full anymore. It’s nacho o’clock. While those bake I’m going to get a little exercise in. All about balance right. Pulling out my dusty yoga mat I scroll through Youtube until I find a Mommy and me yoga video where the instructor doesn’t look too baked or self-righteous. Well, my little yogi had other plans. Happy baby pose inspires a diaper blow out that covers both of us. Namaste. Per my new parenting philosophy “guaranteed to get baby to sleep through the night in two weeks time” I cannot bathe her until 20 minutes shy of bedtime. Paralyzed with the idea of sitting with a stinky baby until then, I decide a bath with the non-lavender (lavender is sleep inducing per @babyessentialoils who I follow on Instagram) soap won’t break our new “routine” too much. That and we are completely off schedule for today which makes it the same as every other day thus far.

6:55 pm

We got behind on our routine again, but this time because Daddy called to FaceTime with his girls. Swoon. Celeste fell asleep in the carrier which means I am doing great according to my attachment parenting book, but failing miserably according to my self soothing book. Why is this all so confusing? As my stomach growls I remember the congealed nachos I never got around to eating earlier. Plop. A giant dollop of sour cream lands on Celeste’s sleeping bald head. Gingerly, I lick that bite right off, beaming with pride that I managed to get every bit in just one lick. I survey the dishes littering the counter, the sofa covered in laundry and decide we should just call it a night. Bachelor in Paradise marathon with my girl for the win! I’ll try that whole schedule thing again tomorrow.

Happy Monday, Emily!

Mama Takes a Sick Day

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Last Monday, I woke up feeling off. The kind of off that can be anything. A combination of a second glass of wine and middle of the night feeds, perhaps. I shrugged it off and added some Advil into my morning routine of #allthecoffee and got the kids ready for our mommy and me stroller workout in the park. 30 seconds into high knees, I felt it. It was more than just a little off feeling, cold sweat/dry mouth/you ladies are about to see my smoothie kind of feeling. I made it home without getting sick (rolling every stop sign), but it was close. I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but I learned some valuable lessons during my SAHM sick day.

My husband is an excellent parent.

Of course I already knew this. I would never have married a man I didn’t see being a great father, but he really stepped up in my time of nauseous need. I woke him up at 9:45 am to take the kids. He got off work the night before at 3 am. Not a single complaint out of his mouth as he made lunches and warmed milk, while I napped away my fever under ten blankets. It made me truly grateful to have such an excellent partner on this parenting journey. I honestly do not know how single parents manage or people with selfish unhelpful spouses.

I do a lot most days.

Even on the days I feel like a survivor over a thriver, there are certain things that I do out of habit. They most often go unnoticed, until they aren’t done. Dishes are clean, laundry is usually done (not put away, I’m not a Marvel character after all), meals are made and cleaned up. A day without Mom’s behind the scenes work did validate all that I do.

Adult fevers suck a lot.

Fevers are no joke, kids. I hit a Tmax (highest temp for my non-medical readers) of 102.1 and I started thinking of everyone I’d previously wronged and wondering what kind of cosmic karma was in play. When my son has a fever he just runs a little slower, I thought I was dying. Further proof that toddlers are incredibly resilient and I’m a little (a lot) bit dramatic.

Daniel Tiger might be a better parent than me.

When my husband did have to go back to work that evening, ol’ DT took over parenting while I shivered on the couch. We learned about sharing, using the potty, and even how crayons are made. The nostalgic part of me reminisced about sick days in my youth watching Mr. Rogers. Screen time for the win.

I got jealous of working moms and then I checked myself.

In a moment I am not proud of, I thought about how if I had a regular job I could “just take my kids to daycare” and not have to parent through my illness. And then reality set in. I *may* be able to use financially crippling childcare on a sick day, but I would likely also be upsetting my boss by calling out sick. I would be disappointing coworkers. I would be giving up all of the freedoms I have being fortunate enough to be able to stay home with my kids. A couple days of feeling sick while parenting is not even a little comparable to the sacrifices working moms make to balance finances and family life. It’s always good to give yourself a reality check. I credit the introspection to my eighth episode of Daniel Tiger.

And there you have it. Being sick sucks. It however did shine a light on some pretty fantastic things I’ve got going on in my life. I’d like to say I won’t lose sight of my blessings again, but I am human. I am so fortunate to be healthy most of the time. There are plenty of parents who never feel well due to chronic illness. I think occasional tough days show us our own strength and gifts. I may also be ordering vitamins in bulk off amazon from here on out.

Mom Rage: All the Feels

gabriel-matula-300398-unsplashI am not proud of this, but it’s a fact. I suffer from #momrage. It’s a real thing. I used to be a relatively normal, albeit often anxious human. Motherhood has made me straight up crazy. My emotions are higher highs and more angry anger that I would ever thought possible in the twenty-nine years I spent with my pre-motherhood self. Every time I feel those toddler like emotions (which are often toddler induced) creeping on I want to simultaneously shatter some pottery and go bury my head in the sand, ostrich style, out of embarrassment. I used to judge mothers (before I had kids) for complaining (venting) about their challenging spawn. Now I offer a blanket apology. You can 100% be both grateful and a little bit rage filled as a mother to young children. Does this sound familiar to you? Here’s some scenarios that recently have given me all the mom rage.

Not listening.

Whether my tiny people or my sweet big person, when a member of my family cannot seem to hear my voice I tend to lose my cool. Everyone on some level wants to be heard. Maybe my need for that is higher than your average mama bear’s, maybe my offspring are really good at the ignoring mom game. This is one thing that really gets my blood boiling.

Public Embarrassment.

I struggle a lot with self-image in a lot of facets of my life, but being (and being perceived as) a good mother is HIGH on that list. Being a mother is my job, my passion and what I believe to be a current calling at this point in my life. Sucking hardcore at it is not something in which I am very interested. Chucking food in a restaurant, screaming blood curdling screams in quiet places (ironically making me wish I could do the same), or using uncalled for physical force on others (also ironically making me wish I could do the same) fills me with such frustration and such guilt. I don’t want to be a ticking time bomb of a mother and all of these behavioral issues are so, so normal. But, is my internal reaction?

Jealousy.

Does it seem to you that everyone else’s children (save a few seriously saintly mothers of heathen children I have witnessed in Walmart) are calmer and better behaved? And when that fails because kids will be kids, the mothers are calm enough to have you suspect sedatives or sharing Julie Andrew’s bloodline? Maybe it’s the social media generation where everyone appears squeaky clean, but jealousy is a major mom rage trigger for me.

Hangry/Tired.

Honestly though, I get the most mom rage filled when my own needs aren’t being met. When I am particularly exhausted, like most people, I am have the shortest fuse with my loved ones. This, as I previously mentioned, is not something I am proud of. However, recognizing my short comings in the first step in helping me grow.

I know parenting is a longggg haul and I am still virtually at the starting line. Just ask my own mother, who fields calls from her thirty-one year old blogging daughter on the daily. I haven’t even experienced teenager girl door slamming, my son bringing home a really terrible girlfriend, or many other far stressful milestones. The learning curve of motherhood is far steeper than anything else I have ever attempted, and I was a competitive Irish dancer. I challenge myself (and you if you’re with me) to look around my little world and witness the true beauty that is the trenches of toddlerhood. I want to be one of those well-meaning and slightly annoying grandma’s telling young mother’s to soak it all in. Anything worth doing is a challenge. And for the time being I will just sing myself Daniel Tiger’s anthem, “When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four: one, two, three, four.”

 

Rage is a symptom of post-partum depression and anxiety. If you find that you are experiencing it to the point of interfering with your daily life please check out resources such as Postpartum Support International at postpartum.net or 1 (800) 944-4773.

#Momfail Monday: Meet Mallory

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Week One: Meet Mallory

Mallory is a former human resources manager turned stay at home mom to twin 3 and a half year old boys, Camden and Cooper. Mallory’s husband Hugh is a high powered corporate consultant that travels 34 weeks a year. These are her stories.

Monday

5:36am

I awaken to hot breath firing at me on each side of me. “Mommmmmeeeeeeee. You up!” they squeal in unison. Why? Why can we not make it to six am just one morning? I make a mental note to leave a scathing review on the website of that damn OK to Wake Clock website. Works for most kids my ass. Hugh is gone…again. Ten days this time. I got a lovely snapchat of his dry aged steak and gin martini last night as I was eating cold chicken fingers. Love him. But I also kind of hate him.

9:43am

Third cold cup of coffee as my darling little angels find new ways to survive death by jumping off furniture, sticking toys in outlets, etc. Loads of laundry complete: 0.2 which is to say I pulled some stained clothes out of our laundry basket and threw some Oxyclean on them. Or was it bleach? Shit, I hope it wasn’t bleach because they were for sure colors in that pile. Is tie-dye back in?

11:15am

I decide to venture out to finally check the Home Depot run off my endless list of errands. I generally hate stores with concrete floors, but maybe the sales clerk will be chatty because I really need to converse with someone who doesn’t solely communicate in fart noises/dinosaur roars. I’m standing in the screw aisle, how many possible screws can this world need? Surely not this many. What was it I was supposed to get again? Damn swiss cheese mom brain. Quick scan back at the cart and BLEEP!!!! Where the bleep is Cam?? That little racecar shopping cart hit a new top speed as we swerved around the aisles in search of that little missing mischief maker. He’s fearless and would totally follow anyone with a puppy/candy/mullet ponytail. As I am about to simultaneously call 911/call for a Code Adam alert, the store’s loud speaker comes on, “Would the owner of a small blonde child please come to the lumber department.” Racing faster than I thought possible, while huffing (and making a mental note to really start exercising…those video workouts would really work better if I didn’t let them play while eating Goldfish.) I make it to the lumber section to see an orange apron clad lumbersexual employee pulling my son off the *TOP* step of those stupid stair ladder things. He was literally 30 feet in the air, suspended above pine planks for the whole store to see. A bunch of contractors clapped, as I tried to decide between tears and spankings.

Still shaken and having purchased no screws, I strapped both boys into their car seats. God love 5 point harnesses. I walked around to the driver side when I heard the most dreaded sound in the world. “Click.” The car doors all locked as I peered through the window to see Coop holding my set of keys and laughing hysterically. 90 minutes and four very nice firemen later, I was driving my heathen children home with no hardware and no self-respect. Only nine days until Daddy gets home. I see a long week of Paw Patrol and Pinot Noir in our future. Certainly not any more damn errands. Maybe I won’t leave the house until their high school graduation.

Happy Monday, Mallory.

Weaning Wars: The Physical and Mental Struggle of Discontinuing Breastfeeding

Disclaimer: This post is based upon my personal experience with breastfeeding two babies. While I did struggle in ways that will be discussed below, I am not attempting to dismiss the experience of women who could not breastfeed or chose not to for whatever reason. Motherhood is hard no matter how it works out and I truly and wholeheartedly believe that fed it best. Baby is the happiest with a happy mama. Thanks for reading!

jenna-norman-292396-unsplash.jpgI did it. I felt a little wrong as I dumped that glorious milk powder into the tepid water and shook it like a Polaroid picture. I made my daughter a bottle of formula. As I sat feeding her that “freedom powder” I was not prepared for the rush of emotions with which my mind was overtaken.

This is amazing.

This was my first thought. Anyone, anyone can now feed her. I am no longer the sole source for her nutrition. We went through a serious bottle battle with this little nugget. No silicone imposter would satisfy her hunger, only the real deal. Which someone told me I should take as a compliment? I took it as YOU WILL NEVER BE ALONE AGAIN. Once a breastmilk bottle was a tolerable alternative (Praise Jesus!) I started dreaming about being done all together: back to clothing with a variety of necklines and finally destroying my pump, Office Space style. And then, as it always does, the mom guilt set in.

Mom guilt is the worst.

I have had no issues (well, No isn’t true…mastitis, as I have been quoted is the motherhood equivalent to stepping barefoot on a Lego, repeatedly.) But no tongue ties, tearful weight checks, or many of the other trials that color the breastfeeding experiences of many of my dear friends. Why can’t I have the earth mama beautiful bonding experience that all of the crunchy moms describe? Just once I’d like to be nursing my little cherub and be transported to a field of wild lavender with a flower crown, is that too much to ask? Apparently. But I digress.

It comes down to the internal battle a) you are a bad mom if you choose your needs over the needs of your baby b) feed your baby something and stop listening to the judgmental bia that lives in your head. I think I will end up beginning the active weaning process in the not too distant future as I do have a number of times in the coming months where I will be away from my daughter for more extended periods of time. Like more than five hours. (Exclusive pumping moms, you are the true rock stars.) I really am not a lover of the pump, unlike my two year old son who is so sad he cannot make milk from his bellybutton. That being said, there are some things about breastfeeding that I will miss.

  1. Convenience: Being a 24 hour diner has its downsides, but there is something so convenient about having everything you need contained on your person at all times. It is much easier to redirect (i.e. swat at) a toddler while nursing with one arm than bottle feeding with two.
  2. Cost: FREE goes a long way. I love free, who doesn’t love free?
  3. Closeness: I do feel particularly bonded with my babies when I get to retreat to a calm dark space and nurse quietly.

I am not someone who magically bounces back (a term I personally hate, being a person rather than a four square ball) after birth with the aid of only breastfeeding. In actuality it makes me ravenous, and has the somewhat opposite effect. I also, had some serious symptoms that mimicked feelings immediately postpartum upon weaning my son. I am not looking forward to the emotional pendulum of that process again. However, I am looking forward to the freedom of having my body be purely my own again.

I love when people are confident in parenting decisions. Kind of in the way that I love when people can ride a unicycle, its unique and I know I will never be able to do it. It’s a gift to not have a forced timeline in anything, but especially in breastfeeding. I am not sure what my path will be, but I hope those of you who also have a love/hate relationship with milk making can relate to the struggle.

I Am A Crappy Wife Sometimes

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Five years into our marriage, and I can finally admit, I am a crappy wife sometimes. Not all the time. I have my moments: carpet lines and handmade dinners have occurred on the same day, but generally there’s a combination of success and falling short on the daily around my house. I am a stay at home mom, but if you have ever read anything I have written you know that is way too ambiguous a title for such a type A person. I never had aspirations of June Cleaver, but maybe at least Clare Dunfey? I fill my day with a lot of immeasurable tasks, but, truth is, I don’t even always do those. Here are some examples:

My House is a war zone.

Let’s start with the most obvious. I love it when my house is clean, but I kind of suck at it. Every closet looks like that secret one Monica has on Friends with crap towers piled as high as the eye can see. I have tried chore charts, apps, everything short of cleaning hypnotherapy. I bleached scratches into our stainless steel cooktop. Apparently, they make stainless steel specific cleaner and contrary to my third-trimester clean-freak pregnant brain, one cannot bleach everything. Thank the good Lord that my husband never complains about the daycare that is our living room or the stacks of $%!t on every flat surface. I am a crappy wife sometimes.

I am appallingly terrible at laundry.

Like really appallingly terrible. Got brand new designer jeans you need shrunk down to fit a toddler? I am your girl. Part of it may come from technique (or lack there of). Literally everything goes in the washer in some random assortment, gets washed, then rewashed with scent booster after sitting there until that awful mildew smell sets in, and finally dried repeatedly for about 24 hours. My super wife stain remover tricks are limited to scrubbing baby poop out of car seats with dish soap and vinegar. Can’t win ‘em all. Oh and I also can never remember to get the dry cleaning. They usually call reminding me of close we’ve had their since March…of 2017. I am a crappy wife sometimes.

I still nap when the baby naps.

I really, really like to sleep. Several days a week instead of oh say, laundry or cleaning (see above) I hunker down in my covers at naptime and get absolutely nothing accomplished. That pretty much leaves post-bedtime to log measurable work done throughout the day, and that is even rarer for me. With two little kids, I know I am likely to be tired for the next several decades, but much of the population seems to do just fine with no nap. This is not to say I am not occasionally productive during naptime, I mean even the Cubs win the World Series every so often. I am a crappy wife sometimes.

I can cook, but I don’t always.

I am actually a decent cook. Sure, I have had my fair share of Pinterest fails like any mere human, but for the most part I can turn out a pretty tasty dinner. I just don’t always do it. I love to go out to dinner. I love Postmates (delivery of local restaurant food as take-out for those of you unaware). I have all the resources at my disposal to cook healthy, nutritious meals 24/7, I just don’t. I am a crappy wife sometimes.

If you were to ask my husband, he would not complain one bit because that’s just the type of gentleman he is. I’m sure he’d appreciate a cleaner house, more home cooked meals, and he’d really appreciate my not destroying his clothes with my atrocious laundress skills. For all of my crappy wife habits, (I didn’t even touch on my mood swings or the fact that I don’t believe in cuddling while sleeping), I do love my little family more than anything in this world. I hope I can show them they are so cherished even if I cannot manage to retain sock marriages or have streak free windows. I am a crappy wife sometimes, but my heart is full.

The Identity Crisis of Motherhood

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I really thought I knew what I was getting myself into with this whole parenting thing. Spoiler alert: I did not. The hardest thing for me, aside from the sleep deprivation and soul crushing mom guilt about literally everything, is the identity crisis of motherhood. Who am I now? Who am I when I am not mommy?

It’s not that all of my aspirations and personality traits vanished when the stick turned pink, they just got put into perspective. I know there are plenty of moms out there who are complete badasses. They literally do it all: careers, parenting, hobbies, volunteering, organic baking. I just have to accept that is not me. I am more the amazon prime loving, store bought cookie mom rolling in wearing yoga pants that have been to a yoga class.

I have tried many things to figure out what type of mom I am. That’s just how a closet type A mind works. I need to put myself in a box. A set of rules for the order of all the things. I still haven’t quite found my niche. The thing that fulfills all of me.

The exercise mom

I will never be a yogi or cross fit guru. I have to let go of the idea of ever being #fitmomgoals. I will say, proudly, that on my journey into this type of mom, I found that exercise can actually be great for ridding oneself of extra anxiety some of us were just lucky enough to be born possessing. And, it makes me feel like a little less of a poser for wearing athleisure wear exclusively. But, it’s not my box.

The direct sales mom

This idea is very intriguing to me. The thought of harnessing the SAHM work force, is a brilliant move by companies. I look around me and see my sister about to graduate from business school, and I have a random thought of, could I do that? I’m sure I could, but what would I have to give up, ask my family to give up to make something like that happen. And do I even want to, or am I just jealous of her passion? I am enjoying my foray into direct sales as It’s pushed me to try new things and reach out to people I don’t know well. I don’t think I have the personality that’s required to turn it into more than a hobby. Not my box either.

The crafty mom

Hahahahahaha. I hate senseless messes. I hot glued my finger together trying to make hair bows. I have completed one sensory bin and I spent eight times as long cleaning it up as my toddler did playing with it. DEFINITELY, not my box.

The blogger mom

This has been the best fit for me so far. I can spill my true feelings as a kind of therapeutic exercise without giving up any family time. When someone resonates with something I write the joy in that is inexplicable. I have always enjoyed writing, my challenge comes from the technology side. I can barely check my email without help. This could definitely be a part of my box.

It’s quite the transition.

Going from a career in nursing that I was so passionate about and good at, or so I like to think in my romanticized rear view memory, to a stay at home mom. There’s no rubric for my evaluation. No set of standing orders that tell me what to do in a given situation. That being said, I will not pretend to be unaware of my privilege here. I am extremely fortunate to be able to stay home with my kids, while my husband provides for us financially. I try not to take that for granted, though I am not always fantastic about the expression of that gratitude. Sorry, babe! Motherhood is an amazing journey and while I am incredibly passionate about my sweet little spawn, I often feel like I am not good at motherhood. Raising children is like doing a one million piece jigsaw puzzle over the course of decades. I put A LOT of pieces in the wrong place, maybe even lose a few. The final picture will be beautiful, even if I can’t see it yet. I want to show my children that being a mother is one of the best gifts life can give you, but it will never erase my other gifts. Therefore, I will continue to search for things to fill my box.