Mothering

A Day in the Life – With 4 Littles

A Day in the Life – With 4 Littles

Then there’s the chapter book sitting on the coffee table. A reminder that I didn’t make time for us to cuddle up together on the couch, to read together and share giggles. But a reminder that tomorrow is a new day, with new opportunities and a new chance for me to be intentional. A reminder of what is truly important and that it’s okay to let the not-as-important things go so that these sweet children of mine know that I love and care for them dearly.

My (Never-Exactly-The-Same-As-Any-Other) Day in the Life of a Stay at Home Mom

My (Never-Exactly-The-Same-As-Any-Other) Day in the Life of a Stay at Home Mom

The beauty and challenge of being a stay at home mom is that no two days look exactly the same...I prefer our more structured days but I try to 'lean in' and make the most of each day.

Self Care

Self Care

The question then, is how?? How do we find the time? We reached out to author and blogger Jessica Turner. She is a full-time working mom of three, founder of The Mom Creative, and author of the book The Fringe Hours, where she addresses this exact topic with practical advice, worksheets and ideas to help any woman implement self care into their schedule.

Balance

Balance

We lay out our mats, grab blocks, bolsters and blankets and settle in to start class. It’s at this point that the rest of the world stops a bit. There are no cell phones, no TVs, no people other than the ones doing exactly what I’m doing. We focus on breath, we stretch, we downward dog and go through vinyasas. A few minutes in and there is no choice other than to focus on the exact move I am in, or I risk falling, injuring myself or hitting my neighbor—all things I’d like to avoid. I am there. And I am all in.

You Can't Fix Everything

You Can't Fix Everything

It has been seven weeks and one day since my baby boy was born. Seven weeks of me feeling like I actually had this mother thing down and everyone who told me it was hard just didn’t get it like I did. Well today I got knocked off my pedestal.

To the mom of only one child… and for those who wonder why she doesn’t have more…

bike-659443_1920

Last week I tried to buy a bike rack. I found a good deal on a quality one and had dreams of family bike rides through Lynchburg trails with the summer wind blowing in our faces. All those dreams came crashing down when I realized my husband’s truck hitch wouldn’t fit the rack. Today, I bought another rack, one that fit my trunk and our budget and my expectations for quality. After school, I picked up my son and we took our bikes to a local park to ride our hearts out before a spring thunderstorm was to strike. I’m not sure what makes an 8 year old boy ride through every mud puddle, but he did and the whole backside of him from ankles to head was covered in splatters. It delighted him (and me) as his laughter and whistles competed with the wind.  

A close friend and I recently chatted about the pain of only having one child when our arms ache for more. For me, the years of infertility and the experience of an angel baby has left me a bit dried up and searching for who I truly am, when I was “supposed” to be the mother of a houseful of noisy children, who made Christmas dinners entertaining and left dirty socks in every corner. It doesn’t help that we live in a city where having children is almost a religion and only having one child entices many to ask… “Are you going to give that boy a sister?” Or the pitying looks from those wondering if I’m every going to conceive again. When Ethan was 5 or 6, the questions of when we were having another seemed to fade away. If we lived in a metropolitan area, I’m pretty sure no one would bat an eye at our only having one child. But today, it took me off guard when the owner of our favorite Mexican restaurant asked me that very question. In all fairness to him, we haven’t seen him in years as he runs multiple eateries, but it still surprised me.

 

A few years ago after we lost our baby, we went through fertility treatments. Physically and emotionally, I knew I was done, one afternoon. Sitting in the waiting room full of eagerly expectant moms with swollen bellies sealed the deal for me. I was done trying. Done with painful procedures. Done with daily temperatures. Done with ovulation kits and intimacy for the point of procreation, and that horrible two week wait after ovulation, wondering if I had conceived that month. Moving on from these lifelong dreams, however, cut me like a knife. Would I ever have a daughter to dress in bows? Would Ethan feel like he was missing out on life without a brother? Had I failed him in some way? Would I grow old one day and live alone in a nursing home with no one to visit me if Ethan lived across the country? How was I going to wrestle with my maternal instincts that seemed to be on overdrive? That wrestling led me to a new career pursuit of becoming a Lactation Consultant. Never in all my years of practicing my nursing career would I have dreamed I would work with breastfeeding babies and mommas. But it fits somehow, like a puzzle piece. This love for babies and nurturing has redemptively turned into a love for educating women and loving on their babies.

 

Yet, There are moments when I see adorable, chubby faced babies in bows, or that picture of a perfect family with parents surrounded by multiple cherubs in a field of grass with the sun casting a warm glow on their little family… that my heart aches. I have cried many tears in the shower over the loss of my baby almost 4 years ago…of the loss of my dreams of how I thought my family would look. Death of dreams demands attention.

 

I inwardly cringe every time I hear someone refer to a newly expectant baby (after the loss of another baby) as a rainbow baby. Perhaps because rainbows do not happen for everyone in that manner. It hasn’t for me… I went for a walk last week at the park and ran into a woman I had cared for at the hospital. Her adorably chunky baby was smiles and sweetness. I knew this woman had wrestled with difficulties in conceiving and had experienced a miscarriage. Some women exude joy in parenting. This momma is one such woman. She loves being a mother and is doing an amazing job. But she was wrestling with whether or not she wanted another child or not. She asked me the pros and cons of having one child, aware of my story.

 

I love that Josh and I have been able to parent Ethan with such individual attention. That my son has his passport and has been able to travel to other countries. He absolutely adores Mexico and wants to go to Europe. That he plays the violin, and I can actively participate in that experience with him. That we can have calm bedtimes and snuggles with him. That he doesn’t have to share our attention with other children at this time in life.  But I ache that he doesn’t have a brother to share a room with and be scolded with for whispers past bedtime. That I am the playmate at times on lazy Saturday afternoons, instead of a brother or sister. My heart is incredibly grateful for the neighborhood kids and the dear friends (who are like brothers to Ethan) who Ethan has shared incredible memories with. Mercies for my heart…

 

When that first bike rack did not work out, I was disappointed. But then another one came across my path a few days later. I chewed on this… This thought that one rack was not better or worse than the other. They were...simply different.  And so it is with my family and every other family with one child, whether by choice or not. We are not better or worse than any other family structure… we are simply different. We are us… and our child is an absolutely precious gift. Perhaps society can begin to accept the variations of families that don’t all look like alike and lay aside any personal judgements and ideas we hold others and ourselves too. And perhaps as mothers we can begin to address that our identities as women supercede being mothers. That who we are is more than the chores of changing diapers and washing dirty laundry. That we have a loving nurturer inside of us. And we can throw that love into raising our families…whether with one child or 20. And we can spread it to others outside our family too… as for me… breastfeeding mothers and their babies. Because we are strong and loving women who need the support of one another and need to extend grace to ourselves and our differences.

 

And speaking of washing dirty laundry… a little boy’s muddy clothing and shoes are asking to be cleaned.

 

Julie Brown, Mother to Ethan, RN, BSN, Breastfeeding Educator, IBCLC candidate

Julie serves as a leader for The Motherhood Grief Group which meets the 2nd & 4th Wednesdays of the Month at 12 noon. Please visit their page for more information.

 

 

 

14 Things Moms Need to Get Over Immediately

The Motherhood Collective is grateful to Brittany for allowing us to share her post today! Being a mom is no easy task; I am one, so I know. But I also think there are certain things we moms hold on to that are kind of ridiculous, and it’s about time we give them up.

If we want to be sane/happy, that is. And if you’re sane and happy you have fewer excuses for eating chocolate, so you’ll have to weigh this decision carefully. If you decide to choose the path of sanity (I will if you will!) here’s what you’ll need to surrender:

Your husband will love you for #3!

1. Get Over… Pinterest Shame

I considered not even including this one because it’s so obvious, but it had to be said– just please, for me, assume that all those moms making gourmet organic dinners and designer birthday cake backdrops are employing small armies of Oompa Loompas to help make it happen. Ok? Ok.

2. Get Over… French Kids

I swear, if I read one more article about how french children eat brussels sprouts and poop butterflies, I might have to slap someone. Sure, people in other countries do things differently than we do. Sometimes it’s good different and sometimes it’s bad different. Who cares? You aren’t French and that’s okay. (Unless you are… in which case, yay for you!)

Trade your french guilt for French fries. And don’t feel bad about those either. tweet

3. Get Over… Spontaneity in the Bedroom

If you’re waiting for the stars to align and the elusive “mood” to strike, you might be waiting forever. With kids in the house and distractions everywhere, you might have to give up on “the mood” and settle for “the moment of privacy in which you cultivate the mood.”

It’s only fair.

4. Get Over… Your Pre-Baby Body

Some women are able to make it look like they never had kids. No stretch marks, no lower abdomen pouch, no sagging anywhere… but those women are secretly wizards. Lady wizards. You need not concern yourself with them, because you are a human.

Does your tummy look like you just came from a street fight with Wolverine? Right on! Rock those baby scars like a boss! You have nothing to be ashamed of. You are a warrior!

Plus, how’s anyone supposed to go easy on carbs when there are sandwich crusts EVERYWHERE!? Who’s going to be the human garbage disposal if not you? There are starving children in Africa, for heaven’s sake; the least you can do for them is eat your kids’ discarded food. Because somehow that will help, right?

5. Get Over… Giant Baby Bows

I don’t have girls, but I really feel for my peers who feel the need to plaster giant flowers on their little girls until they’re old enough for pigtails.

Really, guys, the pink clothes are enough. Those of us who aren’t colorblind can tell she’s a girl. No need to also make her look like a flower pot.

…and come to think of it, even if she isn’t in pink, who cares? She’s a baby! Are we really concerned if the random lady at the store thinks she’s a boy? Let’s take it easy with the gender stress, shall we? Parenthood is stressful enough.

6. Get Over… Having Nice Things

That way, when your kid barfs on it, poops on it, colors it with permanent marker, kicks a ball into it or uses it as a weapon until it’s destroyed, you will get the satisfaction of saying, “See? That’s why we don’t have nice things.”

7. Get Over… Fear of Posting Too Many Baby Photos on Facebook

Sure, there are people who don’t want to see your beautiful children. But I do! I love babies! If Facebook were one giant festival of baby cuteness, that would be okay with me. If you’re really worried about overloading your friends with adorableness, you can just send those beautiful photos to me and I will smile at them all day long. And so will your grandma. Post ‘em for Grandma to enjoy… when she’s not busy playing Farmville, of course.

Your husband will love you for #3!

8. Get Over… Hiding Your Crutches

Let me guess… your kids are watching too much TV and eating too much fast food. It’s okay, so are mine. And chances are, so did you, when you were a kid. We all know it’s not the best, but you know what? It could be a lot worse, too. When we pretend we don’t rely on these and other “mom crutches” all we do is perpetuate a culture of shame and guilt that isolates us and makes us feel inferior to each other.

That said, if you’re one of those moms whose kids read Dickens all day and eat kale salads for dinner, more power to you. If you want to invite my kids over and teach them how to be awesome, please do. When your kids are at my house, I’ll teach them how to make poop jokes.

I think it’s a pretty good trade.

9. Get Over… Giving More Than One Present at a Time

When did this become a thing? Is it really a happier birthday or merrier Christmas when we get 5 presents, or even 10? Or can it be just as special, if not more so, if we give each other one gift per holiday? Just a thought…

10. Get Over… The WebMD Rabbit Hole

I know it’s scary when our kids are experiencing symptoms we don’t quite understand. Naturally, we want answers and we want them NOW. But before you start treating your kids for a rare disease, you might want to consider consulting a doctor. Because… um… you aren’t one.

11. Get Over… Parenting Debates Online

Debating about how to be a good parent is like debating about which is the tastiest dessert. Clearly, there is only one right answer on both issues and the answer is chocolate chip cookies.

No, that’s not right. (Or is it…?) What I really meant to say is that parenting is SO subjective. What works in one family or even for one particular kid will not be the best thing for the next, and that’s okay. As long as everybody’s making these decisions out of love and respect for their children, doing the very best they can, do we really need to fight about the details?

And even if we’re right, do we really think we’re going to change some stranger’s mind about such a personal subject with our impassioned (albeit anonymous) comments? Is that really the best use of our time and energy? I think not.

In fact, let’s just not argue… in general. That would be lovely.

12. Get Over… Suffering in Silence

Being a mom really sucks sometimes. Don’t believe me? Read my other post, 10 Things that Suck About Motherhood.

Motherhood is the suckiest thing you’ll ever love. And it’s okay to be sad and frustrated sometimes. It’s okay to be lonely. Here’s what’s not okay: Being a Martyr. There are people out there who can and will help you, if you ask. Please ask for help. Don’t pretend like you don’t need it. We all need it.

13. Get Over… Being Squeamish About Anything

Anything you think is too gross to fit your job description will inevitably cross your path as a mom. I’m talking, someone else’s barf in your mouth, pee in your nose and blood everywhere. Sometimes, the harder we try to fight it, the grosser things get. And the moment you think you’re not squeamish anymore… your kids will make you squeam.

Eww, that’s kind of a gross word. Squeam. *shudder*

14. Get Over… Being Cool

Sorry guys, the time to be cool has come and gone. Welcome to the age of being a fuddy duddy. And being the kind of person who knows what a “fuddy duddy” is, makes you one.

Gone are the days of doing/wearing hip things, going to hip places, and staying awake until the hip hours of the morning. Sure, you can still do that stuff and from time to time you will, but if you’re anything like most parents I know, you’ll feel a little bit like you’re in costume the whole time and BOY, will you be sorry in the morning!

This is not something you need to be sad about. Because, you know what’s cooler than being cool? Ice cream in bed! And Netflix! And jammies! And having a quiet house so you can do important grown-up things, like fall asleep mid-sentence while you scroll through your Pinterest feed! Party on, party people.

Over to You

So, what do you think? Is there anything I missed? Anything you think it’s time we should get over? Let me know in the comments! I love hearing from you. Until then, good luck getting over this stuff. I’ll work on it too. Together, we’ll find a way to become sane.

Or not. =)

I'm Sorry for Staring

The Motherhood Collective is very thankful to Harper at  http://foldingafittedsheet.com/ for allowing us to share her post today!  

 

I’m sorry for staring at you in the grocery store this afternoon.

I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable while you were scanning your cereal and diapers and orange juice at the self-checkout.

You were just so beautiful, with your impossibly long legs and flat stomach, and clothes without stains. I just wanted to be you: effortless, beautiful, perfect.

I’m sorry for staring at you at soccer practice this morning.

I wasn’t judging you for being late or barking at your kids as they tumbled out of the minivan still getting dressed. I noticed your husband, and your wedding ring, were missing. I just wanted to help you, but I didn’t  know how without offending you, while my perfect husband stood near by. I was just in awe of your strength and how you picked up the slack when your supposed partner in the world’s hardest and most worthy endeavor didn’t show up at soccer, or in your marriage, or in your kids’ lives.

I’m sorry for staring at you at the urgent care last week.

I wasn’t worried that your kid’s runny nose or barking cough was contagious. Okay, I was a little. But mostly I could tell you’d been up all night, waiting, worrying, pacing, comforting, beating yourself up for not leaving work early to take her to the pediatrician during office hours yesterday. I just wanted to tell you “it’s okay, you’re doing your best, and that’s good enough for her.”

I’m sorry for staring at you in Babies ‘R’ Us yesterday.

I didn’t mean to be one of those people a heartbeat away from inappropriately touching a stranger’s pregnant belly, sharing my 20 hours plus a c-section birth story, or spewing unsolicited advice about diapers, homemade baby food, and God knows what else.

You were just me 6 years ago. I could see the joy, the discomfort, and even a little bit of trepidation on your face all at once. And I remembered when it was me wandering those hallowed miles of aisles of baby gear, armed with Consumer Reports printouts in one hand, and the parenting guide du jour in the other. I wanted to tell you that peepee teepees just fall off and you still get sprayed in the face by baby pee, but that you absolutely need the little newborn mittens so your infant doesn’t look like he got in a fight with the cat. I wanted to say save your money on the wipe warmer, but spring for the organic crib mattress. But most of all I wanted to tell you ‘you got this. Trust your instincts, love your child, and enjoy this time. Before you know it, you’ll be a seasoned vet staring at a younger, pregnant version of you, remembering how exciting and scary and wonderful it all was.’

I’m sorry for staring at you at the park on Tuesday.

I didn’t mean to look like one of those baby-snatching people from a Lifetime movie of the week. Don’t worry, I have 3 of my own and couldn’t possibly handle yours too. I just missed the days of being able to lavish all of my attention on one person (thankfully my husband understood). I remember how tough it all seemed then, how I didn’t know what I was doing, but I took on this new role more seriously than a White House security detail. I just wanted to say ‘relax, you’re doing great.’ I even wanted to say ‘enjoy this time. It goes by all too fast’ but I know how annoyed I get when well-meaning moms say that to me, no matter how right I know they are.

I’m sorry I stared at you in the OB/gyn last month.

I didn’t mean to hurt you when I involuntarily clutched my hugely pregnant belly when I saw the tears spill down your face and onto the crumpled ultrasound photo in your lap.

I just wanted to put my arms around you and let your tears soak my shirt. I wanted to tell you ‘I know this hurts. I’ve been there. And I know you want to know why.’ And also ‘this too shall pass.’

I’m sorry for staring at you in the coffee shop this afternoon.

I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable or old while you were having coffee with your grown daughter. I didn’t mean to distract you from what looked like a long overdue catching up.

I was just admiring the wisdom and confidence in each delicate line of your face, how comfortable you were in your own skin and your cotton cardigan. How you smiled at me even when my 20-yard stare turned disruptive. I just wondered what your life was like and what stories you must have to tell. I hoped your daughter, despite thinking she was grown and knew it all, knew what a gift she had sitting across from her, what painful lessons she might be spared if she listened closely enough to your words. I hoped she appreciated the simplicity and truth and love in your wisdom. And I hoped she’ll realize in time to thank you for it before it’s too late.

I’m sorry for staring at you in the living room this morning.

I didn’t mean to make you think I’d caught you cutting the cat’s fur, or discovering the Halloween candy stash. Okay, the Easter candy stash.

I was just thinking I can’t believe how sweet you are to your brother, or that anyone could have eyes as beautiful as yours. Or that you were once small enough to fit inside my belly. I was just admiring how you have your father’s generous heart, and my stubborn tenacity, at the same time. I was just thinking how proud I am of you, and how excited and terrified I am to watch your life every day. I was just daydreaming about the incredible human being you are, and are yet to become, and all the hopes and dreams I have for you. I was just thinking how lucky I am to know you, let alone claim to be your mother.

I’m sorry for staring, but I just need to take in the gift of your presence, and the message God is sending me by placing you in my life in this moment.

Single Mom Survival Guide: Adventures in Dating

I am quickly approaching the two year anniversary of my newly-"re"found singlehood, and feel like I am finally in a place where I can think about dating again. I tackled my relationship fears early on, regrouped on my own, got my life together, and have really embraced being single. There are a lot of aspects of being on my own that I really do enjoy, especially after so many years as a couple. I make my own decisions, I don't rely so much on second opinions, and I can hog the whole bed at night. But at the same time, I am ready for companionship from someone. Someone who makes me laugh. Someone to go to dinner or the movies with. Someone to have grown up conversations with, to travel with, and to let into my life again. I tried my hand at dating early on in the divorce process. It wasn't an effort to find Mr. Right so much as an exercise to see if I still had "it." I was searching for confirmation that, despite my sleepless nights caring for tiny kids and long work days in a poorly lit cubicle hopped up on caffeine and stress, I could still pull myself together, dress myself up, and be capable of attracting the opposite sex. But there is a lot of truth to the idea that you will attract the wrong people when you're not comfortable with being on your own. Most of the people I met were in the same boat as me: recently divorced, bitter, untrusting. Or they were guys just playing the field - something I was never fond of even when I was younger. These dates all went horribly, and I immediately thought it must be me. I was attacting losers, so I must be a loser too. I was embarassed to even talk about these dates, because I thought my friends would think I was nuts. But after a few drinks with friends, these dating horror stories made for good entertainment. And I quickly learned that everyone has been through it, and a bad date (or 10) doesn't make you a bad catch.

So as I embark on this dating adventure again, I reached out to my friends for some funny dating stories from their journeys to find Mr. (and Mrs.!) right. It's always nice to know I'm not alone in this crazy search for love. And as a tribute to those friends that make me laugh every day and remind me that I'm still a hot tamale, I'm sharing some of our most classic dating gems from our archives.

(Disclaimer: Identities have been hidden to protect the innocent, and their stories have been censored to protect the faint of heart. The unrated versions are raunchy and fabulous.)

woman-on-bad-blind-date

"I found what I refer to as a solid gold online match: an engineer, who was good looking and seemed nice enough. We met for dinner on a Friday night. He refused to eat, since he made waffle fries at home prior to the date. He also looked nothing like his picture, and in fact resembled the lizard creature from Monsters Inc. He was the most miserable person I've ever met. He told me about his horrible job, which turns out he wasn't in any way an engineer. An hour into the date, he informed me that his mother was there with us at the very same bar. Super! Trying to sneak out wasn't an option, so I spent the next 40 minutes getting acquainted with his mother, who was drunk and high on narcotics, as she recently had back surgery. Between screaming "what's this girl's name again?" and falling off of her bar stool, she did engage me with an unforgettable yet compelling conversation about Chris Daughtry's new album. As my date and I were leaving, he asked to see me again. Umm, were we just in the same air space?!?! No way! Unless of course your mom is coming again."

"I went out on a blind date with a guy right before I was going to be out of town for two weeks on vacation. He made a comment over dinner that it was a shame I was going away, because he had 'needs' that wouldn't be taken care of. At this point in the evening, I was pretty drunk, so I flipped out over chicken fajitas and told him that sleeping with me is a privilege and that he should take care of his own needs."

"I met a guy through a dating website, who seemed like a nice guy trying to make conversation. Like each person on a dating website, I checked out his profile immediately after reading his message. The guy seemed normal, good looking, 5'10" height, great! So we scheduled a date to meet for sushi. Date night arrives and he texts me that he's outside. I jump in his SUV, and we head to my favorite sushi place. As we park and I get out of the car, I look over and couldn't see him after he jumped out. I suddenly see him appear from around the hood of the car and realize that this guy is no where near 5 feet tall, let alone 5'10". Not what I expected, and not a great night to wear platform heels. I looked like a giant!"

"I went on a date with a guy I met through a dating website. He asked me to meet him at a Dunkin Donuts on a Saturday afternoon. He stared at my chest the whole time and proceeded to tell me he was waiting for his new teeth to come in, since his actual teeth were broken in a car accident. He then segued into conversation about his grandmother, who keeps asking him when he is going to get married and settle down. He says, 'I just haven't found the right girl, but maybe I won't have to look any further.' We then head to the movies, and the only movie playing was the kids' Disney movie, 'Up.' We were the first ones in the theater, so he tries to make out with me. I stop him just before the theater starts to fill up with little kids and their parents. After the date, I say thank you for the nice time but that I didn't feel any connection. So he asks if I like German guys because he has a German friend who just recently broke up with his girlfriend that tried to stab him. I wasn't really sure how to nicely respond to that."

"New to world of attempting to date while in my 30s, and after serious pressure from my friends, I thought 'what the hell' and put myself back out there. I was in my early 30s, divorced, good career, attractive, and slightly athletic, I should be a catch! One evening, I met a very attractive woman in her late 20s for drinks at a local bar. I pull up nervously to the bar and wait outside. Within minutes, a HUGE diesel pickup truck pulls up and my lovely 'lady' emerges. We exchange awkward hellos and went in to get a drink. After the introductions and first round was purchased, she immediately withdrew her phone and began texting. Minutes drug by and I chugged my beer as fast as possible. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally began the horribly awkward conversation. As she loosened up, she told me the story of her long-time ex boyfriend who now resides in federal prison convicted of embezzlement (and showed me the article online to prove it). She bragged about how awesome that relationship was because he bought her a house 30 minutes away and let her do whatever and whomever she pleased as long as she was ready for him when he needed her. Wow. At this point, I ordered another drink. Not because I had ANY interest in this shallow, monster truck driving 'lady,' but because it was just far too entertaining to leave. Over the course of the next 2 hours, she told stories of a myriad of other awful situations. Finally, the booze began getting the better of her and she really came to life. She began making fun of EVERYONE in the bar, LOUDLY. And I don't mean the light jabs about this fella's mullet or that girl squeezing into yoga pants - I mean rude, cruel, awful things about everyone's appearance, clothing, demeanor, laughs, voices, race, you name it. I was mortified because people were beginning to look at us, and I was even quite sad for this horribly vane, disgusting excuse for a human being. I quickly looked at my phone and excused myself."

Putting yourself out there is an adventure in itself. You definitely have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince or princess the second time around. I'm looking forward to the challenge - I'm definitely a handful, so I'm sure I have been the topic of someone's nightmare dating story at a bar somewhere. If nothing else, these frog tales make for great happy hour conversation, so I always look forward to drinks with friends. I wish you the best on your post-divorce dating adventure!

Do You Have Any More Questions?

Our pediatrician asked us this question 4 times at our 18 month check up. The first time she asked, we brought up potty training right away.  Our son is starting to tell us when he poops (he gets it right about 50% of the time). By the third time she asked us, I looked at my husband and we both had this look that said: "uh oh. is NOT having any questions bad?"

The fourth time, my husband and I had this silent conversation with our eyes:

Do we have any questions?  SHOULD WE? I don't have any questions, do you? What are we forgetting?? Is she expecting us to ask a very important question about our child??? ARE WE FAILING THIS QUIZ???? AHHHHH!!

We both said no, the doctor left, shots were administered and we all headed out to lunch. In talking together later my husband and I both decided that not having questions was OK.  Good, in fact.  It means we finally feel like we've GOT THIS.  This parenting thing - we are, in fact, NAILING it.  How, you ask?

PERSONAL TIME.

I can't stress this encourage this enough.  I'm not just talking date night, or taking "a personal day"/"grandparents visit" to go home and clean something.  I'm not talking about calling a baby sitter so you can go out with friends.  These things are ALL important, don't get me wrong, but nothing compares to that sacred ALONE time.

Let me preface what I'm about to say with this:  We are VERY fortunate to have a very nearby support system in both sets of grandparents.  This affords us the luxury of personal time that single parents, parents of multiples, parents of children with disabilities, and parents who are isolated from support by geography have to fight to sometimes get.

I want just want YOU to know that I know I am speaking from a privileged place.

With that said, if you are in one of the more challenging parenting situations, it's even MORE important for you to carve out this personal time that I'm talking about.

This is YOUR time. Only you. Not as mommy, wife, daughter, friend. Just you. Take yourself out for a cup of coffee.  Leave the husband and child at home for 1 hour and go shopping FOR YOURSELF. Take a quick jog in the park. Do some yoga.

DO ANYTHING. ALONE.  Pick up an old hobby, learn a new language, or try something new.

Just ONE way I found to do something for myself, alone, on the cheap.

The point, dear ones -my parents in crime- is that we HAPPILY give SO MUCH of ourselves to the little ones we hold so dear, that at some point, for our mental and emotional heath, we MUST recharge: we MUST decompress.

It feels impossible. Guilt will tell you you're making the wrong choice by choosing yourself over _______.  You may even be MORE stressed out by the suggestion of spending time alone.

I'm here to tell you:

It IS possible.  You can find 15 minutes a week.  It's there. I promise. Maybe step away from the TV/iPad and go for that walk while baby is safe.  15 minutes to start is all you need.

You are NOT making the wrong choice.  On plane safety cards, we are told to put oxygen on ourselves BEFORE the person/child sitting next to you.  Why is that? If you can't breathe, how can you help anyone around you? This is the same with life. If you are maxed-out, over-stressed, at your limit, SPENT, and you don't take a moment, a breath, to recharge, how can you give your best to others?

But MOST IMPORTANTLY: You are SO worth it.