This morning was a rush, as every morning is. I rush out the door just to sit in my car and idle in traffic. It is finally warm here in Michigan and by warm I am talking 75° this morning. I have been yearning for the warmth since January. I curse at the weather every day because I get so irritated with having to bundle up. I want to throw on my sandals and head out the door. I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my body and the wind in my hair as I drive. You know, the “feels” of life. The nature, the simplicity. I miss that. So often I am in a daze with my kids and having the sun shine down gives me hope that I can make it through the tantrums and demands of everyday life.

On my ride into work, I chat with my husband about various topics and today (and for the past month or so), it has been about how I feel – like a robot – always on the go, never really allowing for downtime. Just going through the motions of day-to-day living. I am the hamster on the wheel that keeps running but doesn’t see myself getting anywhere. And I get sad. I feel sorry for myself. I know all about the power of positivity and try to enjoy my cup half full versus half empty, but lately, it’s been hard. 

And it makes perfect sense why. My family and I haven’t had a real vacation in a year. And when you take a vacation with young children, there isn’t much relaxation going on. I really, really could use a weekend trip to a tropical island sans kids, but oh, the mom guilt wouldn’t allow for that. Nor would my finances. So I continue to strive on and remind myself that everyone does it. I am just burnt out. And which I am. 

Just as I was getting on the elevator this morning on my way up to my office, a co-worker asked about my kids. And my response, “Good, you know, they’re kids.” He knew what I meant. I ain’t one to sugar coat how kids can be. You probably know that about me if you read my blog or if you know me personally. There is no reason to hide the truth. Kids are WORK. And some parents work at it harder or have circumstances that don’t allow for much rest or weekend getaways. 

And the response from my coworker (who’s also a parent) was one of understanding, “Feel like a hamster on a wheel yet?”

Boy, do I ever, I thought.

Least I’m not alone. 

 

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I don’t know about you, but in our house, it always used to be a battle to get our toddler to eat dinner. My daughter will be 2-years-old in May and she started giving us her toddler opinion right around the 18-month marker. You know, full blown ‘tude .

Like most families, every night we try to sit down as a family and enjoy a nice dinner after a long day. Every single night (and mainly the days I worked) she would resist dinner. She would downright cry and scream for what seemed no apparent reason. And of course she couldn’t verbalize her upset with just the 15 or so words in her vocabulary.

It was tiring, it was confusing, I mean wasn’t she hungry? I am always famished by the time I get home from work, but kids are different. They are different in the sense that “eating” takes up their precious play time. It took me a couple of months to figure out how to get my daughter interested in dinner. I mean, we all know that eating before bed is necessary for a good night’s sleep.

I have noticed for myself and my kids the strongest desire to eat is around lunch time. I believe it’s because our bodies have been up for hours and we need a decent meal to get us through our long day. Both of my kids have always ate the best at lunch time. And since I work outside of the home, I don’t always know how well they eat at lunch each day. And toddlers sleep patterns can be erratic. It’s best to make sure they get some good nutrients in their bellies before shut-eye, otherwise, who knows what time they’ll wake up wailing because they’re hungry.

According to Ayurvedic wisdom, the biggest meal of the day should be around noon, as this is when our digestive system is working at its best. I agree wholeheartedly with this logic, but I also want to make sure my toddler’s tummy has some food in it before she dozes into hopefully a nice slumber.

There is a trick to the dinner time toddler madness. I’m sure not all parents will agree with my tricks and that’s OK. There is no one size fits all when it comes to parenting. You do what works best for you and your family. The biggest challenge we faced at dinner was my daughter sitting in her booster chair. Amazingly enough, Minnie Mouse isn’t as attractive as mom’s lap. I’ve learned that the best way for her to eat at dinner is to allow her to sit on my lap. Once I made that switch, we noticed a decrease in the number of outbursts.

The second thing I started to do was offer her a cookie with her meal. I know some might shake their heads at this, but we always give our kids a treat with or after dinner. My oldest generally eats her dinner without many complaints and knows if she eats a decent amount – she’ll get a cookie or something sweet afterward. Since she always finishes before her younger sister, she gets her treat while sister is still humming and hawing over what is in front of her. And of course, little sister wants in on the goods. I quickly realized with my youngest that when I gave her a cookie or say, a donut hole – she would then eat the other food on her plate.

Of course, at first, I thought it was a fluke. And I tried it again the following night, the night after, and the night after that and voila! It worked like a charm. Every. Time. She’d take a little bite of a cookie, then eat a strawberry. Then another bite of pasta, and a bite of her cookie.

And the best thing of all with my newfound discovery… most nights she doesn’t even finish her dessert and she eats a bulk of her dinner. #winning

I don’t know about you but there are only so many battles I can deal with. And after a long day at the office, a long commute, and tired eyes – the last thing I want to do is fight with my mini-me over where she sits or if she eats.

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Often times I am in a hurry. A hurry to get the kids ready, a hurry to get out of the house in the morning and into work, a hurry to get home from work. A hurry to get back home anytime I leave the house. It seems my life is nothing but a rush.

The other day I was sitting with my toddler in her room, in the dark, with Coldplay music playing on my phone. As this is our normal bedtime routine, I stopped being in my head so much to really enjoy her and the moment of holding her. Her smell, her softness. So often I forget to be in the present and I just do – not really feeling the moments, rather just going through them. I’m in my head a lot. What to clean, what load of laundry I need to wash, will I be able to watch TV tonight? Random thoughts. Thoughts that rob me of my present. Thoughts always of the future.

My children are growing fast. Too fast. They say, “The days are long but the years short.” True, I agree that saying is very true but what they don’t say is when you are in it, when you are really in it, you want the time to pass. When your infant isn’t sleeping, you want her to be old enough to sleep through the night because you are tired, deadly tired. And it seems day and night run into one giant cloud. It evaporates quickly and you realize your child is 6 months.

At 6 months and beyond, you and your baby may be sleeping better but your baby is also learning new skills, like how to crawl. You child proof your house and tell yourself it’s a short-term thing, this too shall pass. You try to enjoy the days, and you do but they seem to fade. And before you know it, your baby is now walking. And from walking to running and getting into things they shouldn’t. You like how they have independence now but they also have no common sense. Children ages 1 to 2 usually walk around with shiners on their face for this very reason.

But not only do they hurt themselves because they are still klutzy and lack the mental ability to understand everything, they are also cranky as hell. Usually because they can’t vocalize their wants, and this can be an extremely hard time depending on your child’s temperament.

But then they turn 3, and you start to see more and more of their capabilities, their personality. You see them losing the baby fat more and more each day and while you like who they are becoming, you miss the baby you once held in your arms. They might be potty trained now but still have accidents here and there. Bed wetting, peeing their pants, having meltdowns at the grocery store, all the usual stuff that comes with being 3. They are eager to do, yet still, lack the knowledge in understanding that a cookie is a treat and not a meal. They get under your skin – you wish they were older and could understand why they can’t play outside in their underwear.

Age 5 comes around and you are finally able to breathe and you notice the maturity that is forming. You take a step back at the person your child is becoming and you are a bit in awe. You remember the sleepless nights, the colic, the tantrums, you’ve been through it all and now, now not so much. It makes you hold still and realize that time has passed and is passing too soon.

Just 5 years ago you nurtured that sweet baby with the sound of your voice, the warmth of your body. Just 5 years ago you cried because you were at a loss to get her to sleep. Just 5 years ago you learned that motherhood was more than just changing dirty diapers and singing lullabies. Just 5 years ago you were a new mom and now, now you feel like a pro. Just 5 years ago…

5 years from now your child will be that much older. Life with littles is patchy. It’s up and down, left and right. And it doesn’t stop. Time doesn’t stop. So snuggle and kiss ‘em more. Because years from now, this will all be just a memory.

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I never quite knew it, but I have waited for Five.

Five is wondrous. Five is kind.

Five is funny, silly, and laughing most of the time.

Five takes my breath away at moments I least expect.

Five plays by herself now and fusses even less.

Five says “I love you” at the most random of times.

Five is adventurous and eager to learn. Few obstacles get in her way now as her confidence climbs.

Five kisses her sister, even when she isn’t kissed back.

Five helps mom, and does so without request.

Five gives me a break now as she is more aware.

Five likes to color, always in the lines, with unique combinations inspired by Monster High.

Five is independent.

Five corrects me when I am wrong, which happens more than I care to admit.

Five is observant, with a keen eye.

Five has more patience than four, three, or two.

I know she will grow and spread her wings… but for now, I am going to savor her.

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There is a question that lingers in my mind from time to time. A question I pray has a positive answer. At times, this question weighs on me. Especially on the days I feel like I’m literally losing my shit. Days when I ask myself, “What did I eat today?” Because I honestly cannot remember and yet somehow don’t feel hungry. Days when I look in the mirror and don’t recognize the person looking back. Those are the hard days. They are the days I often question myself, “Am I a good mother?”

Like most moms I know, I try my hardest to be a good role model for my kids. At times, I lose my cool and snap quicker; usually, it’s because my kids have taken what’s left of my energy reserves, or I’ve sat in an hour + commute, only to be met with tears when I make my way into the house. I can be inconsistent when it comes to discipline, and that’s usually based on how tired I am. This is bad, I know. I’ve read the books, I’ve listened to the pediatrician give me advice. None of that makes it easy, though. My kids have more energy in their little bodies than they know what to do with, which means they sometimes drive me up a wall. They get bored – often. My oldest will ask me to play Barbies with her and I cringe inside. Not because I don’t enjoy spending time with my daughter – I do! I absolutely do. But, Barbies are no fun at my age. I know how it all ends (sorry kid, but I do). And my daughter always makes me play Ken. I hate playing Ken.

If I don’t want to play dolls with my 5-year-old because I have a gazillion loads of laundry to do and dirty toilets to clean, does this make me a bad mom? I hope not.

There are so many mothers I know. And many mothers I follow on social media that are crafty, creative, and do cool shit with their kids. I feel like I fall in the middle of the spectrum with all that. I know it’s not right to compare myself with people I don’t know – but come on, I think we can all admit we do it. Does comparing myself to other moms make me a bad mom? I hope not.

I suppose others would name me a “helicopter” mom. I am aware this can have a negative impact on my children. I am aware my fears can become their fears. This is something I am working on. I never set out to be an overprotective mother, it’s not something I planned. My children carry my heart with them wherever they go. They are my world, and I try my damnedest to keep them out of harm’s way. Does this make me a bad mother? I hope not.

I watch other mothers with their kids and enjoy seeing the interactions. I like learning things from other mothers that I might’ve missed on my own. I get a little giddy when I am at Target and someone else’s child throws a tantrum, and thank God this time it wasn’t mine. It reminds me that my kids can be good in public, too. And I see how the mother handles the situation. Then Karma haunts me when we’re at a restaurant the same day and my children are acting like monkeys in a zoo, and the child across the way sits and eats – like human beings do at a restaurant. And I think to myself, “What do those parents do to get their child to be so good in a restaurant?” Because we never have much luck going out to eat. My kids don’t sit still for too long in restaurants, does this make me a bad mother? I hope not.

Mothers (and fathers) carry a heavy load. It’s damn near impossible to be a perfect parent. It’s OK to lose your shit every once in a while. As long as you get it back. Right? Hope so.

It’s OK to question yourself and not know the answer right away. Right? Hope fucking so.

It’s OK to get embarrassed when your kid is acting like an a**hole and you have to figure out a way (quickly) to keep it together. Right? Absolutely.

We are all just human beings raising tiny (crazy) human beings and trying are best at it. If you have to ask yourself, “Am I a good mother?” I bet you are.

If you show up and give it your all – you’re way better than you give yourself credit. Right? That’s what I tell myself anyway.

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