mom-with-baby

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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baby-boom

“Nobody can have it all.” That is a line the character Fritz Curtis says in the movie, Baby Boom from 1987 starring the very talented, Diane Keaton. This comment in the movie is made by her boss, a man, just after he demotes her. You see, the character Diane Keaton plays, J.C. Wiatt, is a New York business woman. Her world of fancy business meetings and million dollar deals does a complete 180 when motherhood is laid upon her. I don’t want to give away the details of the movie, and if you’ve never seen it, by all means, search your On Demand or through Netflix now, because this is a must-see movie. It is your classic 80s flick, with the very sleazy James Spader, and instrumental background music in just the right places. It will pull at your heartstrings, but in a good way.

I find that will all our advances in modern technology, and the fact we are such a liberal country, the premise of this movie – from 1987  – is still very much relevant today. This movie will hit home with you. Especially if you’re a woman. Baby Boom is just what it is. A boom effect you feel after becoming a parent. Shit changes. Your life as you know it, will never, never, never be the same. Your heart will beat a little different. Your immune system will tackle random viruses. Your sleep will be lost. Your emotions will be exposed in every direction. There is no going back. And it’s not a bad thing, not a bad thing at all.

It’s actually a beautiful thing. A beautiful experience to love someone so unconditionally. And you will witness this when you watch this movie. You make sacrifices when you become a parent. Many sacrifices. Some people cannot or are not willing to make certain sacrifices. A challenge most women face is to decide to stay in the workforce, leave it to raise their family, or find employment that offers work-life balance. You would think since this movie was made (almost thirty years ago) and with the technology we have today – there would be more work from home jobs, but the cruel fact is, there just isn’t.

I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. My employer has allowed me to work part-time for several years now. I know the society norm is for both parents to work full-time, and with the cost of living, it’s damn near impossible to have only one parent work. And that societal norm is unfair. It’s unfair to the mothers, but it’s really unfair to the child. Because the majority of women that work send their children to daycare – to someone who is not family. To someone who is a stranger to the child and parents. And usually from infancy.

Don’t get me wrong. There are many, many qualified daycare centers and providers. From a mother’s perspective, it’s just that much harder sending your child to someone you barely know and hope for the best. And that is what we moms (okay, parents) do in this country because most of us don’t have a choice.

Being a parent means accepting you cannot have it all. Unless you’re among the rich in the country of course, but if you’re like most, you are just making it – with two incomes. Accepting you cannot have it all as a woman is very important. Once you accept this, the standard you hold gets lowered.

Accepting this fact may help you breathe a bit better. You probably work 8:00ish to 5:00 p.m., deal with a commute, and rush home to get dinner on the table. Someone has to drop off and pick the kids up each day. Someone has to prep dinner. Someone has to get the kids ready for bed. Everyone needs to bathe. Both parents need to wake before the kids in the a.m. to get ready. It’s all a rush. And the itsy bitsy time you get with your child during the week might add up to 1.5 – 2.5 hours per night, depending on their bedtime. And this is our societal norm. This is what the majority of parents with young children do EVERY SINGLE DAY.

With such a rushed schedule, you can guarantee the laundry will not get touched until the weekend. The house will be in disarray during the week. Your children may feel or be neglected a bit, and it’s not for bad intentions on your part, it’s that the energy and time simply isn’t there. And if you’re trying to tone up your post-prego body, guess what? There will be no such thing as “me time” for yourself. So, accept it. Accept what Fritz from Baby Boom said. “You cannot have it all, no one can.”

Sacrifices. Sacrifices will be made. The question is… is to whom or what? And the only one that can decide that is you!

In this movie, the baby’s name is Elizabeth. She is a sweet, “agreeable” child. There truly is cinematic magic in this film – the cast is perfect. The connection between J.C. and Elizabeth feels entirely genuine. Diane Keaton wasn’t even a mother when this movie was filmed. You’d never know it. She nails the emotions we as mothers face; how you feel when leaving your child with a new sitter; how you feel when trying to juggle the work-life balance; and panic attacks. They’re real! I had my first one not too long ago.

I have a strong point to make in all of this. Please believe me when I say, when you become a mother, your world and how you view it changes. The career you worked so hard for, might just take a backseat when your baby arrives. And your employer might not care that your baby was sick all night and you didn’t get much sleep. They need you to produce. And it’s not their fault. The job has to get done. And we are all replaceable. Another point this movie illustrates.

“Nobody should have to make those sacrifices,” says J.C. near the end of the movie. She is right and yet she is wrong. Because as mothers, unfortunately, we are forced to make decisions and sacrifices. The corporate world is a rat race. Always has been, probably always will be. It’s up to you to decide at what pace you go, or if you go at all. Or maybe, just maybe, you have enough talent and luck to create your own pace governed solely by you.

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Extrovert picture

Recently, I read an article about being an introvert in society and how it’s hard to be a parent and attend social functions when you are an introvert. The article was an interesting read. I never considered how an introverted parent feels, at say, a birthday party. I never considered it because I don’t have social anxiety or shyness since I am an extrovert. I can talk to most anyone, anytime. Sure, I get a little nervous in certain situations when I am put on the spot, and speaking in front of people isn’t my favorite thing to do. But, I’ve never had a problem communicating with other people, regardless of the situation. I often enjoy engaging with others and making new friends. Yet, even with being a social person – an extrovert – I too have issues.

I have found these obstacles to overcome as an extroverted person and parent.

  1.  Being an extroverted parent and having an introverted child.

When my oldest child’s personality was in full swing, around the age 2, she was very shy. I felt like this was a reflection of my parenting. I later realized it was not. It was simply her demeanor. She has always been a cautious kid and interacting with new people showcased this. I thought I could bring her out of her shell by introducing her to other children in the setting. It didn’t matter. She would cling to me like a dryer sheet until she felt comfortable enough to leave my side, which sometimes never happened. Eventually, I learned to accept her shyness. And then she flipped a switch after her sister was born. She is no longer super shy at age 4; though sometimes she is bashful at first, she almost always speaks up after a few minutes since she is now a big sister, and always has to introduce her baby sister when we are out.

2.  Being an extrovert can get you in trouble at school and work.

Thinking about my childhood when I was as a kid, I was always more outgoing than my siblings. I can remember when I was in 3rd grade I would get in trouble a lot for talking in class. I remember when my teacher, Mr. Willard, had a parent-teacher conference with my mom. He had told her, “She is a good student, she just needs to listen and not socialize so much in class.” Fast forward to present day and guess what? My socialization skills haven’t changed a bit. I catch myself at times talking over people to get the thought out of my mind before it escapes me, and sometimes chat more than I listen. My close friends and family have probably accepted this quirk I have.

I also work in Human Resources and get to deal with people on a daily basis (yay for me), but, I can see how “talking” seems like socializing in the workforce.

I work in an environment that is rather quiet. I am not a loud person – I speak at normal volume. But, I get “caught” talking often to co-workers. And you know what I mean by getting “caught.” The boss or boss of the boss doesn’t say anything to you – just gives you that look like ‘hey, get back to work.’ And in your head, you think I am working! If an employee comes to me with a problem, I discuss the issue with them and then the conversation trails off into other areas of life. Especially now that I am a mom. I love hearing other mothers’ stories, issues, concerns and I always offer my opinion – and I am not an opinionated person. I just like to help when I can. So, you can see where this is going. Sometimes being an extrovert can get you into trouble even when you are trying to be helpful. Because extroverts are social beings. We like to communicate with other people. We often feed off of other peoples’ energy, which, at times can be draining.

Another issue I deal with (usually at work) is interacting with introverts. If you are an extrovert, chances are every morning upon entering the office you say, “Good morning! How are you?” and you kind of expect the same from others. Though that’s not fair. The reason: some folks don’t like engaging in conversation – even if it involves saying, “good morning.” These are generally the introverts. I often would question in my head, does she like me? She never says ‘hi.’ I have realized it’s not a matter of liking someone or not, an introvert just keeps to him/herself. They aren’t ones to go out of their way to greet you, ask you about your kids, or how your weekend was. They simply keep to themselves.

3.  Extroverts have a hard time understanding introverts.

I find introverts a little hard to read. I am an open book – not sure if that comes with being an extrovert? And I ask more questions than I probably should. I can’t help it; it’s simply how I’m wired. I’m an inquisitive person and like to learn about other people. This is the hardest part of being an extrovert. I hate it when I am in a conversation with someone and they give me nothing – no feedback. It’s like talking to the wall. There is no extra socializing to be had. To an extrovert this can feel like the wind has been knocked out of you, especially when you share personal stories and the response isn’t the same.

It has taken me years to understand others and to come to this conclusion: just because someone doesn’t converse much with you, and just because someone keeps their head down when they bypass you at work – doesn’t mean they don’t like you. Though, that could be the reason. Ask yourself this: are they like that with almost everyone else? If the answer is yes, then they are simply an introvert. They prefer to keep to themselves, to be alone. And that is totally their prerogative. It is their comfort level, which is completely different from an extrovert.

As an extroverted mom of two girls, the best advice I can offer my girls is this: ask the questions you want to ask. Greet the person you want to greet – even if you get a half-hearted response, or don’t. Do what makes you feel comfortable. Just always be you.

Extroverts and introverts get along just fine once we accept one another’s differences.

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unnamed

Everything changes. Good or bad, easy or hard. One thing certain in this life is change will come. As a mother, you have to experience changes that you aren’t often ready for. The changes come quickly, from learning how to soothe your newborn, to fighting with your preschooler to wear underwear. It seems change is always on the rise when you are a mom.

Don’t blink, though, don’t blink. The days, while they can drag on and some days seem longer than others, the years, the years are but a fleet of time.

I have experienced two newborn phases and am in the midst of rearing my second toddler. I have changed as a second-time mom; less patience; more confidence; more tough love. While I am still me, I am in so many ways not.

Going into this whole motherhood thing I had no idea what type of mom I’d be. I didn’t want to be an overprotective mom because I was raised by one. And the very thing I said I wouldn’t be – I am. I cannot help but mother the way I do. Motherhood has come so naturally for me, it is clear it was what I was destined for. And yet, I often wonder what type of mother I will be when my girls are less reliant on me. Will I be able to accept the changes as they move on to the many phases of their lives: the teenage years, and young adulthood? I feel my mother struggled with that.

There are an incredible amount of things my girls have yet to experience. I feel like I can control what they are exposed to now, as they are so young and under my care. But, as they grow, I lose that control. And rightfully so, because it is their life to live. Motherhood feels right on me right now. “I got this” is definitely a slogan I would chant. Will I be so confident another five, heck even ten years down the road? Will the level of comfort I have now as a mom be just as strong then? I don’t know.

The seasons change on their own, without much effort. From fall to winter, from spring to summer – it all flows smoothly. Just when you get comfortable with summer, the leaves start to turn bright orange and you know change is coming. You smell it in the air, you feel it your bones. I hope as my girls grow into teenagers I will be able to offer them my wisdom, not just as a mother, but as a former teen myself. I hope that I can transition easily into what it is they need. I pray I can be the mom they need with each season of their life. I want to always be able to relate to them, to be able to have open and honest conversations with them.

I have heard other mothers say, “they will always be your babies.” I agree. I just don’t want to underestimate their worth by seeing them in my eyes as the babies they once were and will (at that point) no longer be. I want to accept the passing of time and to not get stuck in the way I see them in my mind’s eye.

My preschooler at times acts beyond her young age, which shakes me a bit. It gives me a sense of what will be, and it is a little scary. I tell myself she is growing up. And maybe kids do grow up faster nowadays. I just want to be ready, or even a bit ahead, of the change that will inevitably be.

I do believe there are seasons in motherhood: the season of baby, the season of child, the season of teen, the season of young adult. I pray I can be the best mother for all seasons.

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Shayla on pony

My daughter is growing so quickly before my very eyes. Every day she does or says something that is new to both me and her. Every summer since she was a baby we do the festival circuit. Now that she is 4-years-old, she is excited to actually go on the carnival rides. But only if mama can ride with her. She has always been a cautious child and doesn’t do anything until she is completely ready. I love that about her.

The very first ride we went on this summer was the spinning apples. “What if I throw up, mama?” she asked as we climbed into our seat. “You won’t throw up, honey” I replied, and mentally prayed that she wouldn’t because you never know with kids. And oh, what a mess that would be.

A little boy joined our apple and he was very excited and vocal. He started telling us about his daddy and how his daddy has swords and is super strong. I was impressed with his little story, thinking about how his father appeared in his head. I had to wonder if his dad really had a sword? I ask him his name and age, and then another young girl joined us. He tells us he is 6-years-old. My daughter mentions her dad, and says, “My dada is with the baby. I have a baby sister.” The little boy isn’t impressed at all about hearing she is a big sister and says, “You call your daddy, dada? Like a baby?”

My heart sank a little as I awaited her response and gazed at her to see if his remark affected her any. Nothing passes her, she is very observant and sees and hears everything. Her response was classic… she was silent. She just stared at him. He went on a bit about it and she changed the conversation as the ride started to take off. She squealed as we spun and repeated, “I am not going to throw up, I am not going to throw up.”

The kids were all shouting and I took a second to enjoy the moment, watching the joy on her face. Then I had a thought, this is how it starts. This is how it’ll be once she is in Kindergarten; the other kids potentially teasing her for something. I wasn’t ready for her to call me mommy or mom. Is mama or dada at the age of 4 really all that bad? I look at her and even though she is incredibly smart and sassy all at the same time, she is still just a little girl.

The ride stops and she is so happy, excited to get off to see her sister. She runs up to my husband and says, “Dada that was so much fun!” and kisses the baby on her cheek.

Later that night when I put her to bed we talk about how much fun we had that day. I tell her, “Do you know how that boy on the ride said that ‘dada’ is what babies say? Well, that’s not true. If you want to call us dada and mama, you go right ahead.” She looks at me with her beautiful hazel eyes and says, “Yeah, I know mama. I’m tired.”

And with that, I was so very proud of her. She didn’t question what he said. His comment didn’t bother her one bit and I would know if it had because she questions EVERYTHING. I hope she’ll always stick to who she is and what she believes. She amazes me every single day.

 

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