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The Hypocritical Mom

Navigating motherhood one mistake at a time

The Sideline Mom

It has been almost exactly one year since I’ve updated the blog. Don’t worry, most of that time hasn’t been a total waste (watching the Real Housewives only takes up about 30% of my life). I spent the year finishing up moving in to a new house, making new (and terrific) mom friends, getting acquainted with the local Chuck E. Cheese, and having another baby. 

That’s right, I am officially a mother of two. Two beautiful children. I’ve had almost every single person I know ask me what it’s like going from one baby to two and I usually blurt out “it’s great!” or “you know what, it isn’t that hard.” I’m lying. I lie a lot. It’s quite challenging. Okay, it’s not that complicated, but I wouldn’t say raising two kids is easy. Raising one child isn’t easy, let alone two. But once you find a new routine and you get back in to the groove of changing thirty diapers a day, or discovering how to move through life on only four hours of sleep, you start to find yourself again. Once you accept that your boobs will never look the same without medical intervention, or that by the time you’re a grandmother it means that you’ll have lived with stretch marks for most of your life, the heaviness of raising two kids gets a bit lighter. 

However, most of the time when people ask me “how’s life with two going?,” it usually happens at a play date. I’m always holding Max, my wonderful newborn baby boy, and I tell them it’s great and life is blissful and having a boy is so incredible it could bring you to tears. Then, I turn my back to them so they can see Max’s little face and his tiny hands (which permanently live against my left shoulder) and while they coo at him and talk about how cute his cheeks are, I’m usually eyeballing Sofia, my now three-and-a-half year old. As I look at her playing gleefully with her friends, my heart silently breaks for just a moment. Not because she’s growing up and having fun and gaining some independence from me, but due to the fact that instead of being the mom that watched her child from the other side of the park, bouncing a sibling on her hip, I used to be the mom that was out on the playground with her kid. After a break in our “mom conversations” I could get up and slide down the slide with my daughter, or swing on the swings with her and talk about toddler things while the wind blew in our faces. After we left the park, we could stop off at a place to eat to get some lunch together, or go for a walk in our neighborhood hand in hand, stopping occasionally for her to pick dandelions out from the cracks in our neighbors sidewalks. And while I have phenomenal girlfriends who want to hold Max for a little while so I can have a small break or quickly go down the slide a few times with Sof before her brother needs a boob in his mouth, these moments are few and far between. Currently, as I type this, Max is sleeping on my chest while his sister plays quietly by herself, waiting for him to wake up and sit calmly in his bouncy seat long enough for her and I to bake a cake together, which I have promised her we could do for the past three days. 

What I’m trying to say is that I have become the sideline mom. Instead of being the parent that is in the middle of the action, putting 100% of their attention on to their child and being present in the moment – in their moment – my attention is now split between children. Sometimes the attention is 50/50, sometimes it’s 60/40, occasionally it’s 90/10, but the point is that the attention is forever split for the time being. Sofia’s growing up (far too rapidly), as is Max, and as they grow, things will start to get easier. Sofia will begin school in a few months, which means I will have uninterrupted “Max time” and as Max gets bigger, he’ll go longer without feedings, which means Sofia and I can go out shopping or have a mother/daughter date at a frozen yogurt place, just to two of us. And I know that once they’re both older, two grown human beings, they’ll love having one another in each other’s lives. To have someone who shares the same familiarities with Jarred and I as parents with each other will make their teenage lives all the more easy (I’m sure they’ll complain about us to each other on multiple occasions, probably whining about how cool we are). And forever having a friend around, always at arms reach, means that they’ll never be bored, and hopefully never feel lonely. 

But for now, no matter how short of time this is, I am on the sideline. Watching from a distance, waving the arm that isn’t holding a baby in the air or occasionally yelling her name so she knows that I’m watching her, that I’m trying to be as present with her as I possibly can be. Whispering to her from the couch, that I love her and that I promise we’ll do something as soon as Max wakes up from his 90th nap. Reaching behind me in the car to rub her foot so she knows I’m thinking of her. 

To those of you reading, I want to express how much I am in love with being a mother of two, and how grateful I am that Jarred and I were able to welcome another baby in to our family. Max is hands down the most amazing boy I’ve ever met in my entire life, and from the moment I heard his soft cry from behind the curtain in the operating room, I couldn’t imagine life without him. I want to hold this precious boy and never let him go. But, with that being said, having another child is also immensely difficult to find the balance you once had with your first born. Her life has been forever changed, and she didn’t even get a say so about it. My role in Sofia’s life has stayed the same, and my love for her has only grown, but my presence has certainly been altered. She’s forced to do things by herself that she once always did with me. She’s forced to spend most of her bath time by herself because Max needs to be put down for a nap. She’s forced to sleep in her own bedroom because four of us piled in to a bed is oftentimes too overwhelming for her little brother to sleep in. She’s made to sit with one of the leaders at playgroup during song time, because Mom is holding Max, who is fast asleep against her chest. She’s forced to share her parents, the one thing in her life she’s never had to share before. And she’s forced to have a mom who is currently on the sideline, being in awe of her from afar. 

This life on the side isn’t all encompassing, and it doesn’t happen during our entire day. But even the short few minutes that it does happen can break a mothers heart. I’m blessed to have a daughter who understands, to some degree, that her little brother just needs a little help more often than she does. I oftentimes find myself holding her beautiful face in my hands and telling her how much I love her and appreciate her, and how grateful Max will one day be for having her as a big sister. And in those moments, when we’re locked eye to eye, and I’m apologizing to her for forever changing her life, it hits me like a ton of bricks – being this temporary sideline mom has made me cherish and appreciate my child more than I ever thought I could. I get to watch my child grow in a way that I never thought possible. She’s only three years old, but the love she has for her brother is already unconditional. Instead of occasionally getting irritated with her for being too loud around her sleeping brother, I should be on the sideline cheering her on for playing so independently. Instead of worrying if she’s sharing or being polite to the kids around her, I should be on the sideline with a huge smile, watching her enjoy herself and be a child. Instead of crying over the fact that she’ll be starting school soon and stressing if she’s going to be upset that I get alone time with Max and not her, I should be on the sideline holding Max, and praising her for growing up and becoming this gorgeous, smart girl that I always knew she’d become. And I’ll probably be on the sideline of her classroom, peering in through the window like a creepy peeping Tom, unable to drive away from her school because I’m sobbing at how proud I am of her (and because I refuse to fully cut the cord).

Having another child was one of the greatest decisions my husband and I ever made. And being a sideline mom to Sofia isn’t going to last forever. It actually won’t last much longer at all. But instead of constantly beating myself up over it and feeling shamed about being a bad mom, I’m going to find a way to enjoy this small window of time just watching my daughter blossom into the beautiful girl that she is. A beautiful girl who may have conned me into letting her eat a piece of chocolate cake at 12 in the afternoon, but a beautiful girl nonetheless. 

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Only Adult Syndrome

As a stay-at-home mom, I’ve been branching out in different play groups, trying to get a few hours of adult interaction each week so I don’t rip my own head off. I usually tell myself that these play groups and individual play dates are vital to Sofia’s development and growth. That this will help her learn to share and discover empathy, making her a human being that people actually want to be around when she grows up, and not a self-centered schmuck in her adult years. While all of that is true, I’d be lying if I said that these play times don’t benefit me, also. They do – tremendously. They’ve helped me make lasting friendships and keep my sanity in check from all the frustrations parenthood can occasionally bring us.

The Monday play group Sofie and I go to is actually getting fairly large, and it seems as if the more kids that go, the more fun Sof has. I always catch myself watching her at these events, seeing how happy she is and how high-pitched her screams are (high-pitched screams = “I’m having so much fun I could vomit right now.” Low-pitched screams = “Take me home immediately”). And although I see how much fun she is having and how much she is enjoying herself, I also notice how much of a jungle play time is. There are toys literally everywhere you look and there is usually at least one child crying at all times. Toddlers are stealing toys from other toddlers, or snatching up another kid’s snack right out of their tiny pint-sized mitts. It’s utter chaos. As my husband and I are currently talking about the prospects of having another baby, it seems as if these play dates give me a reality check of epic proportions. And yes, I am well aware that if we had another baby, it wouldn’t be as overwhelming as this. Sofia would just have one other person to play and share with, two if my husband and I were feeling frisky (and naïvely brave). She wouldn’t have to worry about life with twenty other kids. It’s just difficult for me to process the possible future of Sofia-Plus-One. Life with two incredibly cute babies. I never had that. I was the only baby my parents ever had, and I’m oftentimes forgetful that that isn’t how most of the world grew up.

For the first time at our regular Monday group, another mom asked me if I enjoyed growing up as an only child. A question I have been asked a million and one times in my life. She tells me that she is thinking of keeping her daughter Hazel as an only child and wants to know how I felt about being one. I tell her the same three sentences I tell everyone – “I loved it. Very much. I was happy I was an only child.” And I did. Growing up without any siblings had innumerable benefits. I was lovingly spoiled, always getting the latest toy or game, making me Queen of Recess on several occasions. I was able to have a stronger connection with my parents than my peers were. A connection that made me able to lean on them and confide in them in areas where most of my friends leaned on their siblings or other friends. It made me able to consider my parents as two of my best friends. The question “did you enjoy it?” was one I was asked frequently, but why was it leaving such a bad taste in my mouth this time? And why could I not stop thinking about it? After letting it fester and stew in my mind all day long, it finally hit me as I was cooking dinner – I did enjoy it. Being an only child was fantastic, blissful even. It’s being an only adult that blows.

I started thinking back to a couple years ago when my grandfather was diagnosed with colon cancer. It came as a surprise to almost everyone in the family when the news broke, and it left me feeling like I was some sort of letdown for not being able to be with him and the rest of the family during all of this (my husband, daughter, and I were living in Germany at the time). I cried over the phone to my parents, and then in bed with my husband. I wanted to reach out to a sibling to talk to, someone who had the same familiarities with my grandpa that I had. Like someone reaching for a phantom limb, there was nothing there. I watched my dad go through bouts of relentlessly worrying about his dad’s health while trying to comfort his mother and be there for her. I felt awful for him, but I was pleased that he didn’t have to feel the burden illness brings on his own. He had four other siblings to carry the weight with him. Four other siblings to discuss the future with, share stories with, reminisce with. And he had four other siblings to celebrate with when my grandpa received a clean bill of health, nearly a year-and-a-half later.

Thinking back on my grandpa’s illness made me selfishly think about myself. What in the hell was I going to do when one of my parents got sick? As we get older, our health depreciates, and eventually we die. It’s a natural process that happens to every single one of us, but that doesn’t mean it gets any easier when it happens to someone we know and love. But what would happen if one of my parents became unwell? If they got to a point where they needed full time care, and I wasn’t able to take care of them on my own? All of these future decisions that I may have to make, they all collapse on me. Dealing with them getting older and weaker and eventually passing away, it is my journey that I will one day have to face alone. The encumbrance and weight of these issues will not be shared between me and a few other people as my father, mother, husband, cousins, and friends all have. The heaviness will rest on my shoulders entirely.

I loved the life I had growing up. I love the relationship and the closeness I have with my parents because of it. And as much as I love my parents and wish I had them with me always, one day the only family I will have left will be the one that I have created. That’s why my husband and I will try to give Sofie the gift of siblings. She may not enjoy it when she has to share the last piece of cake or when her little brother or sister hides her favorite toy just to watch her freak out. But one day, she will.

“Whether you like it or not, alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot!”

     – Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go!

Thanks for keeping it real at an alarmingly young age, Doc.

God, Grace, and Gratitude

Being a mother brings out both the best and worst in me, especially during this time of saying goodbyes, navigating airports, and realizing just how much work needs to go into our new home. Sometimes all I want to do is lounge around, replenishing my tired body with a good book and a great nap. My two-
year-old has other plans.

And while I have this odd urge to argue with a toddler about why Mommy deserves a little time out, she comes up to me, eyes smiling and head tilted, and tells me she wants to cuddle. Nothing more. Just to feel our hearts connecting. She is giving me all the love in the world, yet she is blissfully unaware that she’s also giving me an attitude adjustment of elephantine proportions. 

I don’t deserve her. I love her, more than absolutely anything on this green earth. But I don’t deserve her. When she has sleepless nights, the next day turns into crying fits, tantrums, and back talking. And I lose it. I raise my voice, I give in, I ignore, I bribe, and I tell myself I can’t wait for bedtime. How utterly selfish. 

Parents, especially those living in the land of “Terrible Two’s” and “Threenagers” deserve a break just as we all do. But during the trying, hair-pulling, fighting days, I wish them away. I subconsciously beg for time to magically speed up. Or for someone to develop an organic baby Xanax. And just when the Toddler Gods throw me a bone and send her off to sleep, and I’m finally left alone with my thoughts, I think of all the people out there who would kill for what I have. 

All the couples who have tried to get pregnant to no avail. I think of my best friend Jessica, who tried and tried and tried to get pregnant, and all she got were nervous thoughts and doctors appointments. It took her and her husband months before those precious and sought after two pink lines came into view. All it took for me and my husband was a couple of beers and newlywed bliss for Sofia to show up. 

I think of all the couples who save up every penny they have or take out a loan to go through IVF. The couples who have been on adoption waiting lists for years. The couples who sit through hormone injections. The couples who hear the words “I’m sorry, but…” come out of their doctor’s mouths before all the sound that surrounds them swallows them whole. They would kill for my sleepless nights. They would kill for temper tantrums. They would kill for saggy boobs and stretch marks. They would gladly step in and take care of a baby who did nothing but show defiance. They would easily punch me in the face for praying for bedtime. 

It’s time to start living in the moments of these battles. Handling (almost) every temper tantrum with grace because, oddly enough, we’ll miss that one day. Now is the moment for greatfulness to take the front seat. Turning a new leaf in motherhood, and starting each day with the “Three G’s”: God, grace, and gratitude. 

I may only be able to write this with one eye open at a time, eyelids heavy with sleep deprivation and day old eyeshadow, because my child has demanded she stay up all night and explore her new home and Mommy is on the verge of passing out cold on the kitchen floor. And I may not remember writing a lick of this tomorrow. But I’m grateful for this sleepless night. They aren’t going to stick around forever. Although these baggy under eyes probably will.

Adiós, Self-Esteem

When you become a parent, your entire world changes. Your life sheds any and all semblance of what you used to do, starting from the moment your child wakes up and ends the moment your child closes their eyes. These repetitive commitments you perform daily start to take hold of you – making sure your child has had enough to eat for breakfast, and doing your damndest to make it healthy. Remembering that your child needs to bathe on a semi-regular basis (they’re dirty but they’re not like, that dirty). Baby and toddler proofing any area of the house you think your child may even look at so they can roam about the home unscathed.

In other words, you are your child’s main bitch.

It’s sad, but it’s true. Our kids run our lives. If your child (or children) doesn’t run your life, and you are still the king of your domain, let me write your number down so we can discuss why you’re probably a better parent than me. Not to say that I’m not a good mom. There are most likely dozens of things I could work on when it comes to parenting, but all things considered, I think I’m doing a pretty great job. Sofie is living proof of that. This kid is a genius. Hello, MENSA? Is that you?

I prepared for everything I could possibly prepare for when I was pregnant. I made sure I had all of my ducks in a row, and that if my pregnancy or new found motherhood decided to throw me a curveball, I was ready for that as well. But the one thing I never even thought about was how much parenthood would unravel my insecurities and shake my self-esteem to its core. Where I was once found with the entire world, I was now lost in my own home. Is anyone at home even listening to me? No, no they are not. I’m basically talking to myself all day long. While Jarred is working and busy bringing home the bacon, I am constantly bargaining with a two-year-old, who is only really half paying attention to me. How many times have I asked her where she hid the remote control, only to get a response with the fakest (albeit cutest) shoulder shrug? Nobody truly pays attention to Mommy for the time being.

Self-esteem takes a beating on my manners now as well. To anyone reading this that has had to deal with me in person or over the phone, let me just apologize for my behavior. There are times when I take my child outside the comfort of our home, or God forbid I answer a phone call around her, and she is just not having it. My attitude is curt and occasionally rushed, with the formalities of hellos and goodbyes frequently forgotten because my child’s mood is commanding otherwise. It’s not that I don’t like you or I don’t want to talk to you. It’s just that politeness can oftentimes be difficult to maintain when I’m dealing with an unruly toddler and trying to run errands at the same time. If you see me and it appears as if I am about to burst into tears, it’s because I probably am. Just ignore it. It’s better for the both of us if you do.

My once confident judgement calls are now constantly being second guessed by myself, too. Do I even have simple decision-making skills anymore? Any time I come to face to face with making a choice for Sofia, I falter. As a parent, I now have this amazing super power of peering into the future and seeing how my decisions for my child can affect her. They expand throughout all areas of Sofia’s life. From what I feed her for lunch – “am I making her an overweight hellion if I let her eat a second package of fruit snacks with her sandwich?” To what she wears outside of the home – “will people think I’m a lazy good-for-nothing if I let her walk around town with me in what are obviously pajama bottoms?” To the movies I let her watch – “will she think it is okay to hit someone with a frying pan if I let her watch Tangled again?”

Entering parenthood definitely runs your self-esteem through the wringer. Sometimes, you’ll hate what it can turn you into. But something we have to remember is that while we are building our children up to be these amazing, ambitious, thoughtful human beings, we’re also building up our new livelihoods as parents, and it’s okay to stammer and second guess ourselves every once in a while. Or all the while.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, people.

Millennial Motherhood

“Wow, she’s so young to be a mother. Poor thing.”

Lock me up now, because the next time I hear those words, someone’s getting stabbed. I want to start off by saying that this isn’t a piece about why everyone should run out right now and go have babies. Motherhood isn’t for everyone, especially if you’re young, and I get that. Enjoy sleeping in and having nipples that aren’t sore to the touch (one of the many upsides of breastfeeding). I’d also like to say that if you don’t want kids or if you’re not ready for kids or if you’re single or if you’re casually dating or if you’re enjoying the small amount of time you have in life to be one hundred percent selfish and not even thinking about kids – I’m genuinely happy for you. Truly, I am. There’s something to be said about people who live their lives to the absolute fullest on their own first before bringing a child into this world (if they even want any), and I would love to hear stories about all the magnificent adventures you’ve had.

That just isn’t the lifestyle for me.

I got married at the ripe old age of eighteen. I was young and dumb and had the world at my feet, and I chose to get married. Everything happened really quickly and sort of unexpectedly, and it was never something I had planned. I always thought of myself as the type of girl who would marry in her thirty’s and be so filthy rich that I could quit my job when I decided to have kids and walk them around the neighborhood in their diamond incrusted strollers and be the envy of soccer moms everywhere. I still like to imagine that I’m the envy of moms everywhere, but the filthy rich part is a little muddled.

Anyway, I got married, and kind of on a whim. My then boyfriend (now husband) was deployed to Afghanistan for the entire duration of my senior year of high school through the first two months of my freshman year at college. When he was finally back home, our hormones were raging (sorry, Mom) and our hearts were filled. We were two kids in love and we wanted it to stay that way. When he proposed in the middle of the freshly fallen snow on that chilly December night, there was no hesitation in my answer. “Yes” just fell right out. Then we took the plunge. I got married. I traveled. I discovered. I got pregnant. I had a baby.

And I love it. Every poop-filled, sleep deprived, booger infested minute of it. Sure, I occasionally get nostalgic when I’m scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook and I see one of my high-school friends getting all dressed up and staying out until three in the morning with her girlfriends just because she can. Or when I come across a picture of a college buddy double fisting two separate bottles of tequila (I’m not really jealous of them drowning in liquor, but if they can do that, think about all the responsibilities they don’t have. I’d have so much free time). But then my daughter shows me her drawing that she is so proud of or she says a brand new word I didn’t even know she knew or she kisses me by surprise on the cheek and I snap back into reality – how could anyone pity me?

I kick-started my adult life a little earlier than a lot of people my age, but doesn’t that mean I get to enjoy it all for longer than most? I’m young enough to have the energy to keep up with my rowdy two-year-old all day, and still want to stay up until midnight with my husband, cuddled up on the couch watching a new movie and talking about our day. When I’m thirty, and people I grew up with are freshly married, I’ll already have more than a decade clocked in with Jarred. If you see marriage and kids as the end of the “fun part” of your life, you’re doing it so, so wrong. It’s one of the greatest parts of life. I mean, yeah, Sofie’s pooped on every single good pair of jeans I own, but that little face is worth all the weird looks I get when I go grocery shopping in sweatpants that have holes in really unfortunate places and I don’t realize it until three hours after I get home.

Age has nothing to do with the quality of a mother or a wife. Their own self-worth does. So, go have a baby when you’re young. Or don’t have one until you’re well into your thirties. Or don’t have one at all. Go elope with your high-school sweetheart. Or don’t get married until you’re well into your thirties. Or don’t get married at all. Go travel the world straight out of high-school. Or don’t leave the state. Go do whatever you want to do with your life, just make sure that you make every single minute of it count.

I don’t think I emphasized just how much poop you’ll be dealing with if you decide motherhood is for you, though. It’s a lot. A lot

It’s Potty Time

If you ever have an extra bottle of wine just lying around and you’re like, “Oh, I wonder who I should gift this to?” give it to a mom who is potty training a toddler. In fact, just go to your wine rack right now, grab the closest bottle to you, put a little bow on it, and hand it to your favorite friend with kids. You’ll become a hero.

I’m actually fairly lucky in this department. Sofia has been beyond great with this dreaded task. Potty training her is still a messy pain in the butt, but it could be worse. At least for us there haven’t been any tears. It’s been a slow process. I was nervous to start toilet training her too soon because I have heard some flat-out horror stories from parents (mine included) about the repercussions of starting too early. Jarred and I were just going to wait until she gave us some signs that she was ready. Sofia gave us a few signs when she was just a little over a year old by pointing at the toilet and flushing it constantly. Jarred and I got pretty excited, so we rushed to the store the next day and bought her her very own potty chair. This thing was a beast. It was all princess themed and made this magical little twinkling sound whenever you “flushed” it. It even came with this unbelievably soft insert pad so her little buns wouldn’t get uncomfortable on the seat. Any time she looked like she was ready to go to the bathroom, we would just place her on it and say all those ridiculous things parents say when they really want their kid to do something. “There are thirty cookies in it for you if you go potty right now.” “No one potties as well as Sofie potties!” “All those other babies out there are so jealous of you right now!” And my personal favorite, in correct sing-song fashion, “Go Sofie, go Sofie, we’re gunna potty like it’s your birthday.” None of it worked. It’s a shame one-year-old’s don’t understand the concept of bribery. We didn’t fully give up hope until we caught her biting into the toilet seat cushion (unused, don’t worry) like she was a dog with a new chew toy. So we pressed on.

She didn’t really start showing signs again that she was ready until she was almost two. I was really excited for her (and a little for my wallet – no more diapers!), but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’m the type of person who has to have everything be on a schedule. No two milestones can run into each other. At the time, I was slowly weening her off of breastfeeding, and I just couldn’t deal with adding another thing to my plate (moms who have breastfed, I know you hear me). So we waited again. After her second birthday, it was game on. Every time I would take a big drink of something, I would say something stupid like, “Oh boy, do I need to potty or what?!” Stupid, yes, but it got her attention. Then she would mimic me by taking a big gulp and running to the bathroom.

The first time she peed in the toilet, I screamed with excitement. The second, third, fourth, fifth time, I did the same thing. She lit up with joy. But then something bad happened – she started to correlate water with going to the bathroom. Every sip from a cup meant it was potty time. Every shower or bath meant it was potty time. Every public pool meant it was potty time (but I’m pretty sure public pools are about 60 percent pee anyway). And not just peeing. Any sight of liquid also gave her the urge to “go number two” as my mother-in-law calls it. Gratefully, as Sofia gets older and her bladder gets bigger, she’s starting to realize that being in or seeing bodies of water, no matter how small, doesn’t mean she has to push anything out. It’s happening slowly, but it’s still happening. Just don’t let my kid near your pool. Or your shower.

Not all heroes wear capes. Most of them just fish poop out of a bathtub.

The Great Balancing Act

For those of you who balance both being a wife and a mother with ease and beauty, props to you. You should teach a class on how to balance those two things because you’d make a million bucks. I’ll be your first sign up. Granted I’ve only been a mother for a little over two years, which isn’t long compared to most moms, yet my marriage has definitely taken a back seat to motherhood. And the passenger’s seat. And the trunk.

I’m fully aware that this happens to most couples when they bring a child into this world, as it probably should. Great parents put their kids before anything, especially themselves. And I do so try to be both a great mom and a great wife. My husband deserves that. He works harder than any other person I’ve ever met, and he does it with very minimal complaining. But while he works insanely hard at his job, he gets to come home to a home. A home where he can kick back with a beer and a football game and a home cooked meal. A home where he can pee off the back porch (though when he does that, I try to convince him otherwise. The bathroom is like, four feet away). A home where he can walk around in his boxers and eat cereal straight out of the box. I, on the other hand, don’t exactly get that luxury. My home is my office. I change diapers in my office. I pee with the door open and the company of a child in my office. I watch Frozen eight-thousand times a day at my office. I sleep at my office. You get the point.

Even when I get a lousy night’s sleep, I still wake up as refreshed as I could possibly be, and try to make my daughter and I have the best day that we can. I get up, cook a delicious breakfast, put on some makeup and some deodorant, do my hair, wear a cute outfit, and get the ball rolling. Unfortunately, my husband leaves for work before Sofie and I are even up, so he doesn’t get to see me at my best. But as I’m going about my day, the weight of all the challenges motherhood brings starts to get heavy. Sofie will want to play and run around the house, so the tight jeans and cute blouse I was wearing get traded in for some sweats and an old high-school tee. Sofie will want to help me cook lunch, so the fresh makeup and deodorant get traded in for sticky sweat and runny mascara (helping a toddler cook over a stove and trying not to let her burn herself will do that to you). Sofie will get that lunch all over her, since she thinks eating with her hands is way more fun than eating with utensils, so she’ll need a bath. So that nicely tousled hair gets traded in for a messy bun. And then at some point during the day, it’s likely there will be at least one meltdown from her, which takes a toll on a parent who hates to see their kid cry. And then I get exhausted from trying to cook a nice homemade dinner while balancing a thirty pound toddler on my hip. Throw a girl’s menstrual cycle into this and you’ll run away screaming and crying. And then Jarred walks through the door.

He doesn’t get to see this happy, bouncy, pretty wife that was waltzing through the house just a few hours ago. Instead, he gets greeted by this sweaty, grumpy lady with bad posture who has worn the same sweats six days in a row without washing them. And that just isn’t fair. I’m allowed to be worn out from the day just like he is, but it isn’t fair, to either of us, that he gets to see me as this woman I just don’t like being. The key to all that is a balance I have yet to figure out. Am I the only mom out there who turns into this weird creature at the end of the evening? Is it even possible to balance these relationships and responsibilities evenly? Is there a pill that can cure all of this? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie-pop?

The world may never know.

 

What Is Sleep?

What is sleep? That word sounds vaguely familiar to me, but I’m too flipping exhausted to remember what it means. I’d just like to give a shout out to my daughters first pediatrician in Germany (where Sofia was born) who straight up lied to my face when she told me that I’ll get way more sleep as she grows up. Sofie didn’t fall asleep last night until 3:00 am. Well, that’s not entirely true. She went to bed at 7:45, and then I accidentally woke her up at 11:00, and then it was all downhill from there. But it’s not entirely Sofia’s fault that she’s keeping Mommy up (I’ll say she is personally responsible for 30 percent of it. That seems fair). It isn’t that she physically keeps me up most nights. It’s the fact that she’s a living, breathing human being who I am worried about 24/7 and responsible for that keeps me up. I think that’s most parents’ problems. Let me explain.

Before Sofie was born, I prepared myself to get little to no sleep her entire first year. It can’t be easy being a newborn. Their quite, soft, pink world is now this loud, chaotic, brightly colored one, and I’d imagine that’s a lot to handle. Their only real way to speak to you for the first few months is to cry until you get them what they need. And I was entirely okay with that. In fact, I kind of enjoyed it. Not her crying, that always broke my heart, but her soft coo’s after I had calmed her down were like music to my ears. Knowing I was making her feel happy and loved is more than I could ever want. The crying kept me up, for sure, but she was my little personal alarm. She’d always make the same sounds, right on cue, to let me know what she needed. And they were simple. She whined and moaned over the same five things: if she was hungry, if she needed to be changed, if she was sleepy, if she wanted to play, or if she simply wanted to cuddle. But then she grew up.

Now Sofia can talk, incredibly well for someone her age, and there isn’t any real guessing when it comes to her wants and needs. In my early and more naïve stages of motherhood, I expected that as she got older and could talk to me and understand me, I would worry less. How foolish. I think I’m more worried about her every day as she gets older. She’s making decisions for herself, slowly but surely, and that terrifies me. And it’s not just her I’m worried about all the time. It’s all kids. All of them.  Last week at the grocery store, I broke the tip off of a young toddlers candy cane, that he had sharpened to a point by sucking on it, when his mom wasn’t looking because I kept envisioning him sneezing with the candy cane in his mouth and then stabbing himself in the back of the throat and all hell breaking lose in the pasta isle as everyone rushes around frantically trying to help this kid. Unrealistic, I know, but those ideas just gnaw at you and stew in your mind after you have a child. The whole reason why I woke Sofie up last night (by accident, I promise you) is because I was trying to slip her out of her light-up Queen Elsa costume that she insisted on sleeping in because I was frightened that somehow water would get on our bed and seep into the lining of Sofia’s dress and it would short circuit and fry her to a little toddler crisp. The odds of that happening are about nine trillion to one, but I just couldn’t take that risk. And then of course me taking off the dress that could never harm her woke her up, which made her excited thinking it was morning, which led to her seeing the dress, which led to her insisting that should I not only wear it, but she would have to put it on me. And then when I finally gave in and began to struggle trying to get the dress over my shoulders (it’s a shame I don’t fit into a 2T), that sent her into a laughing fit that lasted a solid twenty minutes. After the laughter stopped, her own two-year-old rendition of “Let It Go” started coming out of her mouth, and it was a battle from there. A battle that lasted until 3 o’clock in the morning. A battle I lost.

Anyway, back to the point. After I woke up this morning, exhausted, my mom (who we’re visiting) asked me why I was so tired. “Sofie,” I started to say. But then I caught myself. It wasn’t really Sofie who made me lose sleep last night. It was myself, after my worrying woke her up. And then I started thinking back to all of my other sleepless nights. None of them had to do with Sofie physically. It all had to do with me worrying myself into an almost frenzy. Worried that she would be too cold in bed because the weatherman said it would probably be in the low twenties that night, so I had to hunt down our extra comforters to lay on her, even though she already had three. Worried that someone would break in and steal her away, so I had to roam around the house checking every door and window, making sure they were sealed tight. Worried that if she woke up before me and I didn’t hear her, and she ran around the house unsupervised, she would climb onto something and fall, or put something in her mouth and choke. So I had to do a complete walkthrough of every room in the house to make sure all her little toys were picked up and every tall thing she could climb onto was somehow barricaded off, even though the chances of that happening are less than none. It all has to do with me and my worries.

So now I am officially done with blaming my daughter for my sleepless nights that I will most likely forever have. She’s the main reason for all my worries, sure. But that just gives me the extra job of protecting her for the rest of my life, and the rewards of doing so are more than worth it.

You’ll always be in my heart, Sleep. The one that got away.

“I’ll never let go, iPad…”

Today, I did the laziest thing imaginable.

I try extremely hard to make my daughter be an outdoorsy girl. We go for walks, we head down to the park, I even let her run around naked in the backyard when it isn’t -4 outside. The wonderful thing about her is that I usually don’t even have to try. She typically wakes up, eats breakfast, and pounds on the door so I’ll take her outside. And today was one of those average days where she wakes up at 6:45 and starts her routine.

But this momma wasn’t having it.

I was so tired that I couldn’t even keep both eyes open at the same time. Like a sorority girl with her first hangover. So, I staggered out of bed and searched for the elusive iPad. Luckily for me in my blind hunt, I found it fairly quickly. I went back to bed and handed it to Sofie. Her eyes lit up like I had just made her wild, toddler dreams come true. And then I rolled over and slept for two more hours.

I woke up and felt like the biggest butthole of a mother. I did what I always said I would never do – have technology be the babysitter. The whole point of the iPad was so Sofie could be distracted during car and plane rides, two of her least favorite activities. Not so Mom could completely ignore her. But is it completely awful to take a little “me time” in the form of some extra z’s? I want to say no. However, when I finally woke up at 9, she was hugging and kissing her iPad like she had fallen in love for the very first time. I was expecting her to say Rose’s famous line “I’ll never let go…” from Titanic, but then I remembered that she’s only two and nothing like Rose (Sofie would have shared that door). Still. She had a death-grip on that puppy. Hopefully she doesn’t expect this to be an everyday thing now. At least she still wanted to go outside after I woke up, right? Right.

Damn you, Steve Jobs.

 

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