There are too many parenting articles, so here’s another one…

Based on all the parenting articles I’ve read lately, I’ve determined that we’re all destined to fail as parents.

My husband offered that I sound angry, which I’m not. I’m simply overwhelmed by the volume of information and level of contradiction, thanks largely to social media.

Last week I read I’m inadequately (or inaccurately) using the expensive gear we have, only to be coined a helicopter parent this week for stressing safety.

I’m supposed to make sure my kids experience distress and don’t expect happiness 100% of the time, but then I need to ask them about their feelings.

We’re supposed to raise them to think for themselves by giving them options, but then we’re scolded for letting them make decisions.

You shouldn’t give your kids too much sugar or let them decide what to eat, but if you go on Pinterest for ideas for playfully introducing a variety of healthy foods you’ll be picked on for trying to be supermom. Our moms gave us moonpies, juice, soda, vienna sausages and TV dinners, and look how we turned out. Oh wait, obesity is running more rampant than ever.

We’re told to do crafts to help develop fine motor skills and inspire creativity, but then we’re over-stimulating and playing WITH them too much when we should just send them outside (barefoot) to discover the world. Make sure you’re out there with them though…it’s dangerous and those bare feet will get some kind of parasite for sure.

One day I’m crazy for sending my child to public school rather than homeschooling and choosing our own enrichment programs; the next I’m not exposing them enough and will end up with a socially inept, awkward child.

My kids are only in one program, yet I’m bombarded by articles detailing how over-scheduled they are.

I let them get as dirty as they can, but some old guy in a parking lot takes it upon himself to remind me that boys should play in the dirt.

It goes on and on!

Share… don’t share. Teach them to respect adults, but don’t force them to hug someone… Expose them to art, music, foreign language and education from a young age, but don’t push them to learn too much when they’re young or you’ll totally screw them up forever. Did I mention over-scheduling? Don’t even get me started on discipline!

Maybe, just maybe, if we move to a farm with no technology, where my kids can only eat what they harvest, but are never around sharp tools and wear helmets at all times, maybe then some of you will be happy. BUT, someone else will call me “granola” and point to their kid who only ever eats processed food and watches TV 24/7 who happens to be the epitome of health and genius, and tell me I’m not exposing them to the real world. As parents, we can’t win…even with each other.

I appreciate all the concern and advice, but all it makes me do is second guess my decisions and my instincts as a parent. It’s too much. I’m really trying, but even that takes a beating when we’re told we’re putting too much time and thought into parenting.

None of you out there is a perfect parent, and neither am I. Thankfully, it’s not all on me. Nature plays a role, God plays a role, and there will be many other influencers and experiences that have absolutely nothing to do with mama. Please take it down a notch and let me screw up my children all by myself.

Also, what are you doing reading this article on your phone? Your child might see you and be negatively affected since you’re clearly choosing to look at it rather than watch him eat his lunch. Another one bites the dust!

 

 


Party of 4

I have never been happier than I am now, with my (complete) family of four.

My pregnancy days are behind me, since we’re stopping at two, and I’m so in love with my family.

The 1st time around

Everything about Aidan’s (baby #1) entry into the world was dramatic. The poor guy gets dogged on every time we talk about how easy his sister has been.

I was nervous the whole pregnancy because of a previous early miscarriage. I passed out a couple of times and, after 22 hours of tough labor, rife with his heart rate scaring us half to death, I ended up having a cesarean section. Then, he had a painful, shallow latch for feeding initially, but as a newbie it took me a month to figure it out, and it caused my supply to be just enough – so pumping was never an easy option. Having said all that, I breastfed for just over 12 months, and although he was a tough baby (I don’t think we slept for a year), he’s an amazing toddler, and an outstanding big brother.

I honestly didn’t realize other parents of infants WERE sleeping. I thought all babies were just like mine. Even though it was rough, we were willing to go through it again.

Take 2

Funny, I spent my first pregnancy worried about Aidan, and my second pregnancy… worried about Aidan.

Because he was my first baby and we were already “established,” I was very nervous about him adjusting, and about him hitting the baby. I had no idea how much our attempts to prepare him were sinking in, and really wasn’t sure what he would think of having a baby sister. Turns out, he was born to be a big brother. He’s loving, gentle and helpful. I didn’t know I could love him anymore than I already did, but I do!

About a girl

Kennedy (baby #2) entered the world via VBAC after 9 hours of labor and 1 hour of pushing. It was such a relaxing experience – if one can say that about labor. I requested an epidural right away since I determined I’d felt enough contractions to last a lifetime with Aidan, and my husband and I watched episodes of “Homeland” on the iPad. Every now and then he’d look at my chart and announce I’d just had a huge contraction. I have no regrets about not feeling those suckers.

After latching on fairly easily (considering their mouths are the tiniest when your boobs are the largest), she went right to sleep without even being swaddled. We were astonished! We had heard of baby’s sleeping, we’d just never witnessed it. Aidan needed the 5 S’s all the time, and frankly, we could’ve used S’s 6 & 7!

I’m really glad my tough baby was my first baby so I could really focus on him, and I’m really glad labor was easy this time so I could continue to love on him and pick him up as I always have.

Kennedy was back to her birth weight in record time, so we were cleared to let her sleep. This was also drastically different as Aidan had to be woken to eat and they monitored his weight closely for the first month. Miss K came out on a 3-hour schedule and always gives us a longer stretch at night.

Recovery

My recovery this time has been completely different from the first time. Unlike post-surgery, post-VBAC I was able to walk around as soon as I felt up to it. It was wonderful!

My body is bouncing back faster this time as well. Some of that is because I was able to be active sooner, and some is because I’m in a better place nutritionally. I have products to help with energy, strength and weight loss that I ran by my doctor, which is good because I have a deadline for being back in shape. My sister is getting married in November! Baby weight is temporary, but wedding photos are forever. Thankfully, chasing a toddler around while carrying an infant is quite sporty, I’m back to exercising, I gained less weight this time around, and I’m nursing.

Why is the second child so much easier?

I’m sure anxiety was a large factor in our first experience as parents. It’s impossible to be second child parents until you actually have a second child.

Parenting is more fun this go round since we aren’t second-guessing ourselves or each other. First time, it was the blind leading the blind, which can get pretty ugly when you’re tired.

I questioned whether or not to share this entry since it is very personal, but I decided to because our first and second experiences having a baby were so different. We always knew we wanted two children, and I can’t wait to see how these two, unique love bugs turnout.

I thought I was busy when I was single, then I thought I was busy when I got married, then I thought I was busy when I had one child. Now, I know I’m busy. And… back to it! Cheers!


Pregnancy the 2nd time around

Here we go again! I’m so excited to be 6 months pregnant with a little girl, and this time is nothing like the first go-round.

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The 1st time around

My first full-term pregnancy was not a bad experience, but it wasn’t overwhelmingly good. Aside from some bouts of wicked indigestion, I felt fine, but my parents had recently split, I’d suffered a very early miscarriage shortly before, and I went from a busy life of working and a full social calendar to a new home far from anyone I knew.

In my 2nd trimester, we moved from Italy to Hawaii. Both are awesome places, but I didn’t know anyone when we arrived in Hawaii, and pregnancy is an awkward time to get to know one another. When you’re pregnant, you’re a bit between groups. You’re not able to hang with the party animals, but you’re not in the mom’s club yet either. I also couldn’t participate in all the water sports and hikes I longed too. I was anxious, lonely, a bit bored… the scenery was nice though (I’d be remiss to leave that out.).

With my son, I craved sweets. My thighs are lucky there isn’t a Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts on island, because I would’ve stopped by WAY too frequently. Giving into my cravings with him brought me down. The one morning I had a donut, I passed out and ended up in the ER.

I also spent lots of time creating the perfect birth plan, which I’ve done none of this time. Let me leave the hospital with a healthy baby, and we’re good.

 

This time

This pregnancy started out rough in terms of how I felt. My first trimester was rife with headaches and nausea. But, aside from the symptoms, this time around has been much better.

First, I haven’t googled anything. The wee one and I check in with each other, exchanging pats and kicks here and there, but I’m emotionally at peace. Even going into this pregnancy was less stressful since I was already content with my son. If God decided he was it for us, I was ready to be completely fine with that.

The other nice thing about this time around is how busy I have been. Between work, my son, an upcoming move (this time closer to family and friends) and the excitement of my sister’s upcoming wedding, I don’t have time to stop and worry about anything, let alone be lonely or bored.

This pregnancy I’m also in swim-shape. I highly recommend swimming for anyone expecting. There are days I feel like I could fall asleep swimming because I am so relaxed. At the most, I get in 2 swims a week, but I’m happy even for those couple dips. I normally find a day to do some weights sometime in there as well, and I’m either walking or on my bike pretty much every other day of the week.

I started this pregnancy 7 pounds lighter than my last, but my body seems to have a sweet spot where it likes to be for baby building. I feel good about my level of fitness, but my weight jumped right back up to a more cushy condition. First time around, the worry of what would become of my physique postpartum was scary, but this time it feels really natural. I never expected to be in better shape after a baby, and I’m confident in my ability to bounce back yet again.

This time around, I know to have protein to start my day, so I’ve avoided light-headedness entirely. If I want something sweet in the morning, I mix a vanilla protein shake with peach rehydrate…hello, peaches’n cream! They told me last time around that, although I was drinking plenty of water, I wasn’t retaining like a should. The rehydrate helps me retain the necessary fluids.

Cravings this time have been for salty and spicy food. Step away from my wings and no one will get hurt. I’ve had to turn away from chips that promised all kinds of wonderful taste sensations, but it’s been an easier palate to work with overall.

My doctor kept me on omega’3s and probiotics this go around, which has helped keep my digestion working like normal, and it’s helped balance out the fact that my skin has been more prone to breakouts than it was the first time.

Overall, I’m simply more relaxed, which is a blessing to my entire household!

 


House rules, and guns at playdates

Let me get right to the point.

We don’t have guns in our house because I think we’re more likely to suffer an accident than be heroes, and I’m terrified of my son being a victim of a gun accident. We have various forms of protection, but none of them are as final and deadly as a gun.

I’m not against guns. I have a healthy amount of experience handling guns, and I have no problem with other people owning them. I just don’t want them in my house. Our house; our rules.

Where I’m struggling is with playdates. When it’s not my house, it’s not my rules, and every family can make their personal choices. I think it’s important for my son to see that not every family manages their home exactly as we do, and he should adapt accordingly, out of respect, so long as it doesn’t require compromising core values. Rules, toys, food…none of that bothers me. What scares the bejesus out of me is my son being involved in a gun accident at someone else’s house.

My husband made a good point in saying that people aren’t likely to get defensive about this matter if we ask. He thinks other parents will happily show us their safety measures if they have guns in the house, because all parents share a fear of something happening to their children.

I would love to hear your feedback on this, and how you’ve handled situations where your comfort level might be tested when your child is at a friend’s house. Also, this is a great opportunity for all my parent-friends to know where we stand on this particular issue.

Again, I have no issue with the right to bear arms (though I think it should be restricted to single shot style guns rather than assault weapons), we just choose not to bear them at our house.


Confessions of a stay-at-home mommy

I feel very blessed to be at home with my son for most of the time. My work schedule is flexible, and I’m able to do some of it from the house (or even the park, thanks to smartphones). The trouble is, being flexible sometimes is a curse as much as it is a blessing.

Allow me to explain.

First, as wonderful and sweet as my son is, he’s also a sensitive child. Some children go through phases, aches and pains with little to no fussing. My child is not that way. If something is amiss, we’ve got drama. And, when you’re with your child all day during a dramatic day with no break or support, you’re willing to do pretty much anything to help him relax and nap.

I swore I would never put my son down with a bottle, I know how bad it is for his teeth, but I sit here typing my confession now, telling you it’s happened. Not regularly, but in desperation.

We’ve also had triumphs followed by regression, largely due to me being worn down. We had him completely off pacifiers and bottles until his molars started coming in. Again, we haven’t fully regressed, but if it’s what it takes to get him the sleep he needs, I’ll give in.

My schedule isn’t the same everyday, so my son’s routine can’t be perfectly consistent either. In many ways, this has made him a very go-with-the-flow baby; but, in other ways, it’s made transitions through the back-to-back phases more difficult.

We’ve read all the books, and we make really good plans. Trouble is, since I’m the only one enforcing the plan, if something throws me off, the plan just falls through the cracks. Also, it’s my first time out, so each day and each change is new. I don’t know what to expect before it happens. I just try to carry on and remain calmer than my son.

If I have a work call, I’ll throw on a video so he’s occupied. Is he in front of the computer or TV all day long, absolutely not. We’re talking 30 minutes a day, max. Sometimes you just need a minute to handle something.

I try not to beat myself up about our inconsistencies or my little “cheats.” He’s consistently seen to and loved. He experiences life with me everyday, and we have many adventures and learning opportunities.

I know he’s only 16 months, and we’re doing pretty well to be mostly off bottles and pacifiers. Overall, he’s thriving; but, I can see how a little time away here and there would probably boost my resilience.

It’s amazing how guilty we mommies can make ourselves feel. I know I’m a good mom, but I feel bad for needing the time when he’s napping, or wanting time away. I feel bad for doing what’s easy sometimes times instead of what’s considered “right.” I truly believe children need to know they aren’t the center of the universe, but it’s harder to strike a balance between enrichment and hard-knock-life-lessons than one may think .

As I said, I’m grateful being with my son so much, I just wonder if I might do a better job if I had a few more minutes of me-time.


Hello, we’ll be your family

Typical relationship steps (as if there’s a typical relationship):

  • Boy meets girl.
  • Boy and girl date.
  • Boy and girl date exclusively.
  • Boy and girl analyze everything about each other.
  • Boy and girl either break-up, or wait until each thinks they’ve been together long enough, and tie the knot.

Cut to a baby’s first relationship:

  • Baby enters world.
  • Baby meets family.
  • Baby is instantly part of the most serious, long-term relationship he will ever be in…forever. Hello, family!

It’s both beautiful and scary at the same time. A baby is assigned parents, for better or worse. There’s no Parent-Match.com.

On the one hand, there’s instant, unconditional love, without anyone needing to lie about likes/dislikes or put on makeup before the other wakes up. On the other hand, if it isn’t a great match, you’re stuck.

Funny, but true. 

Marriage vows try to mirror this same ideology, but it’s unrealistic to expect two adults to skip the analytics and criticisms that come with age, knowledge and experience, and fall perfectly into true, unconditional love.

Babies need parents in a way adults typically don’t need each other. It’s the same with pets. A dog knows who feeds it and takes it out, and that’s where we get the old adage, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

When the idea for this blog sparked, I thought it would just be funny to mention how babies are thrust into relationships without the usual dalliance. Now that I put it all down, I can see a more serious moral to the story. Without need, relationships are conditional and disposable.

It’s not all about passion, love and sex. It’s about focusing on improving someone else’s life, and scratching an itch they otherwise can’t reach. Without the right partner, one could itch incessantly.


Who would you be if you could be anyone else?

This blog stems from a recent discussion with my dad. He has lots of good stuff going on in that head of his. 

If you could be anyone else in the world, who would you be?

Up until 5 years ago I might have said any number of people, but then I married my husband and became more content being me. Thirteen months ago, I officially decided never to be anyone else.

I’m Aidan’s mommy. People should seriously want to be me. I’m straight up VIP in this house.

For all you parents out there, I’m sure you see where I’m coming from and feel the same (at least most of the time, with the exception of during tantrums or the teenage years).

A lot changes when you decide you wouldn’t rather be someone else. Even though I couldn’t actually trade places with someone else before, the desire kept me from a certain level of contentment.

Now, I fantasize about who I may become, and what all my friends and family will live to see, achieve and accomplish. There’s an entire world out there to experience, and it all requires me being exactly who I want to be. Who I am. Me.