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Working Mom Guilt

Nothing tugs on your heart strings more than when you have to drop your child off so you can go to work and they shed real little tears as you head for the door.  It’s one of those things that sticks with you all day long.

Being a working mom comes with a plethora of challenges.  You have to learn to trust the person(s) you leave your child with every day (and not cry when you drop them off).  You have to learn how to make as many seconds of your awake time count each day, which I am learning requires mad skill in the time management department (of which I find some days I am sorely lacking.) You have to figure out a way to keep the house reasonably clean (at least clean enough that if god forbid CPS came knocking it wouldn’t gross them out). You have to make sure there is healthy food in the house to prepare meals. You have to find time for your husband, the critters, the babe and maybe even eck out a little me time (I’m still not sure how that’s possible) all after working a 40 hour work week outside the home. . . Sometimes, I struggle with all this on a weekly basis, sometimes a daily basis (heck sometimes I have those days where it’s all I can do to just take it an hour at a time.)

It’s hard.  

Sometimes I shed a few tears when I get in the car to drive to work.  I think about what things would be like if I could stay home with my child all day instead of going to work and then I remind myself of what  I know deep in my heart, that me working and him going to school, is probably the best for both of us.  I like working.  I get stir crazy if I’m in the house too long.  The babe has similar tendencies, he is go, go, go and at school they do a wonderful job engaging him in all sorts of activities I don’t know if I’d be creative enough to figure out on my own if I was at home.

But I still miss him.

I get jealous when I see other mom’s posting pictures of fun activities on facebook during the day.  I get annoyed by “school” holidays that working people don’t get off, and summer, what the heck is that?  I get frustrated when I look for Mommy and Me type activities and I cannot find any during the weekend or evening hours (because you know us working mom’s don’t want to do fun things with our children. . .).  I have to remind myself that I am lucky to have the job that I do.  My boss is wonderfully flexible when it comes to me needing time off (or to work from home) to take care of a sick little one or attend one of his school activities.

I am so incredibly grateful for this.

I try my hardest to be away from him as little as possible and I try my very hardest to be engaged with him when I am with him.  We read daily, I try to have a craft activities for him a few days a week, I physically play with him daily,  I bounce with him in his trampoline, I dig in the dirt and pick up worms and frogs with him, I try to take him to the park every Sunday and  have a fun visit or trip somewhere every week.  I think because my time with him is limited I work my butt off to make sure the time I do have with him is quality time and I think we are both okay with this arrangement.

I’ve also learned that when guilty feelings do roar their ugly little heads, I pull out the big guns, (maybe play hooky?) and plan something extra fun for the both of us.

All Hail, Another Round of Babies is Coming Forth!

It seems like babies come forth in little swarms and another round of babies are about to make their presence known in this world.  To celebrate I’m passing on a few healthful hints to new mommies (or reminders to veterans if it’s been a while.)

In General

If you are not part of some type of online mommy support network, join one! (This is where I give a shout out to all my NHCM’s!  I love you all!) You make tons of new friends and there is always someone up at 2am, or 3am or 4am when you are in desperate need of some help or a pick me up that will respond to your desperate plea for help.

About Sleeping

-They say to sleep when baby sleeps… YES, do this! Don’t clean or organize or do anything else! SLEEP. (I am still a big fan of this rule and love taking weekend naps with my toddler.)

-Cry it Out is not for everyone.  A lot of people will tell you to let your baby cry themselves to sleep or “self-soothe”.  I am NOT a fan of this method. I just cannot do it and you don’t have to either.  Sarah Ockwell-Smith has a great article about it Here: Self Settling-What really happens when you teach a baby to self soothe to sleep. –

About Breastfeeding and Pumping

-Breastfeeding isn’t easy, try not to get frustrated (which can be so very hard).  Keep Trying and Ask for Help if you need it!  Lactation consultants are great! Also Le Leche League International- is a great resource

-Breastfeeding is messy keep a burp rag nearby.

-There are many different tools that can help make nursing easier, like nipple shields and fenugreek. . . try them if you’re having trouble.  Using tools to help you achieve your breastfeeding goals does not make you defective.

-Pumping sucks, but you should do it if you can, build a stock before you go back to work, it’s amazing how quickly it can deplete.

-Watch the video that comes with your pump. Sometimes it takes two or three or four or five times to figure it out. (Like,oh duh, the dial turns up higher than the stupid little picture above it.)

-Pumping can be messy, keep a burp rag nearby.

-Use your friends who have or do Breastfeed and pump as a resource. They are an invaluable resource!

About Diapers

-They say you will change 8-12 diapers a day in the beginning. I swear it was more and I think sometimes I’m still changing 8 a day.

-Diapers are labeled all sorts of different fancy ways: swaddlers, snug and dry, cruisers etc… I haven’t found much of a difference except the color change indicator is way cool! Most brands seem to be about the same quality. (I didn’t choose to cloth diaper, but to all the moms who do I just want to let you know I think you’re awesome)

-For kicks and giggles put a diaper through the washing machine to see how much they can really hold (Oops, did I really do that? Why Yes. . . Yes, I did).

Cheers and Congratulations!

You Are Not Alone. . .

It seems like there has been an unusually high number of people I know (including myself) that have been through some particularly rough patches this year.  2015 has not been the most kind and generous year. Overloaded with obstacles, chock full of unexpected challenges, and crawling with chaotic changes, 2015  is giving many people a run for their money.

I am here to tell you, you are not alone in your struggles.  The cosmos has delved it’s hand into many pockets and is letting loose mayhem all over.  It reminds me of the short lived tv series Constantine and their battle against the “rising darkness.” So too, 2015, has let loose it’s own rising darkness.  But in truth, there is always light in the darkness and if you don’t lose sight of this, you can find it. Frequently it will be small flickers and flashes of light that let you see enough to keep hope alive.  At times it will be a steady stream of light that really lends a hand to leading you out of the dark.  Look for the light.

One of the more recent changes I made in my life was to try to be more positive and I have found that if you try your hardest (because for so many of us positivity is anything but natural) the ebb and flow of positivity increases in your life.  You find the light when it starts to get dark and can sometimes pull yourself out before you get submerged.  Or you can reach out to the light.

When you are going through a rough time ask for help!  Utilize your friends and family when you are having a tough time.  Find just one person you can pour your heart out to even if it’s a stranger just so you can release some of the weight of your burden.  Write it down, get some of it out of your system.  Find a support group be it online or in person. Because I promise you there is at the very least one person that will help you if you ask and pull you out of the rising darkness.

On the flip side, if you know someone who is going through a rough time, check in on your friend to see how they are doing.  Offer help when you can.  Do little things to lift peoples spirits.  Send a card or a gift, a text or an email or an actual phone call.  (Do people have verbal conversations anymore or just via text?) In any case, just let them know that you are there for them and then remind them, again and often.  Be someone’s light and pull them out of the dark.

To all my loved ones and everyone going through a rough time. . .  I love you, I’m praying for you and I am here if you need me.  Let me shine for you.

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Monday I Surrender

It was one of those days that started off on the wrong foot.  A cranky sick husband having a morning tantrum, the babe eating not only his breakfast but yours also.  Crazy busy at work with a tetanus  shot for lunch (the neighbors dog nipped me last night but that’s another story.) An afternoon of more crazy busy at work followed by running errands with a toddler.  Trip one to Petsmart for dog food was a success.  Any trip where there are animals is fairly easy and fun (for the toddler anyways, I’m not sure the critters appreciate the squeals of joy.)  After trip number one the babe didn’t want to get back in the car.  He clung to me like a clingon and then told me about the sun and the wind.  He clung to me some more  and I finally managed to convince him to get back in the car by offering him the keys and letting him press the panic button or as he says “I beep, beep?.”  He manages to take off his shoes and socks before we make it to the next stop.  I bring him shoeless. . . The grocery store is a struggle of trying to steer a cart and carry a squirmy toddler who refuses to sit in the cart, with a throbbing leg from the dog bite and a throbbing arm from the shot.  When I do manage to get him in the main part of the basket he squashes one of the most squashable items.  We quickly sweep the aisles without incident and even make it past the olive bar without a meltdown but somehow manage to break open the bag of flour at the checkout line.  At least I only went $7.06 over my budget and I found my grocery list while I bagged my groceries.  You know, in one of the reuse able grocery bags, (why the heck did I put it there?) I manage to shove the groceries in the trunk and get the babe strapped in.  We get home and the smell of heaven greats me.  Dinner is in the crockpot!  I surrender to Monday.  You win.  And after I surrender… an amazing thing happens. . . I start some sides and have time to play with the boy while they cook.  We laugh and giggle.  The hubby walks in just in time for dinner where the babe eats seconds of everything (except the carrots which he won’t touch because he has an aversion to orange food).  He has his yogurt rasins for dessert and we enjoy a playful evening of ball throwing and books before I bathe him and put him to bed.  Bedtime is a quick and easy one and with the hubby passed out on NyQuil I have enough time to clean the rest of the kitchen, getting my writing in and catch up on some reruns.  All it took to turn a crappity day into a good one was saying Monday, you win.  I surrender.

Reminiscent

145Some people have spun webs around our heart that are so intricate and complex that the impressions they have inscribed can never be untangled from our essence. These are the people who change our lives. These are the champions of kindness and encouragement, the people who make you smile when it seems like there is no good left in the world. They are the listeners, and the noticers of small blips in our lives or hiccups in our personalities. They are the jokers, and the reinforcers of normal (whatever that may be). These are the people who you find yourself thinking about even after you have not crossed paths with them in such a long time, (and may never again).  These are the people that murmured some words in our direction that were so incredibly profound we often find them on replay or shuffle in our minds. These are the people who have helped fashion who we are today, at this very moment.  We can never have enough of these people in our lives.

To all of these people from my life, I love you, I miss you and thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Forget Who You Think You Should be and Focus on Who You Are

On my 30th birthday one of my oldest and dearest friends gave me a leather journal and said something along the lines of “For your writing if you still are and if you’re not, you should be.” It never ceases to amaze me what sticks with you over time.  This friends voice and these words have come back to haunt me numerous times since this event took place, until I finally really listened to the words, and followed her advice.

I used to write incessantly. I wrote letters to this friend when she moved away in seventh grade, until she returned to the states our sophomore year of high school. I had an uncanny ability to befriend people in some strange way, exchange addresses and then would write to them from across states and continents. I scribbled poetry in the margins of my notebooks in high school and college and on order taking tickets when I worked in restaurants. In college I could whip out a ten page paper the night before it was due (and still get an A.) Sometimes in my “real jobs” I would still find myself scribbling poetry in the margins of my work notes. . .

I don’t know where it all went wrong and I put down the pen and paper but somewhere along the lines I got caught up in other “stuff” and took a long hiatus from my writing (too long).  During this hiatus I wasn’t as happy as I had been in the past.  I didn’t feel quite whole and I found myself questioning too often who the person in the mirror was.

I think all too often we get caught up with what we think we should be in life and lose sight of who we truly are.  I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I do know that I function better when I write so I need to somehow incorporate writing into that equations.  I have been so much happier since I’ve been back to putting my thoughts to paper (er, um, computer screen).  So, my challenge to all of you out there is: to not lose sight of your dreams, however large or small.  Dreams should not be filed away for later, dreams should be pulled out constantly even if you are only able to chip away at them a tiny bit at a time.  Don’t lose who you are for who you think you should be or even worse who other people think you should be.

I’ll end with a quote by Dave Buchanan  “ I don’t need to be rich or have a fancy home. I just want to go to sleep at night knowing my labor had heart, I’ve loved fiercely and lived close enough to the edge that I can see the waves kiss the rocks.”  Live your life for you and your loved ones.  Not everyone else.  Incorporate your dreams into your life, find a way to do what you love (even if it’s only as a hobby)!

Cheers and Namaste!

Simple Gestures

One thing I’ve learned is that simple thoughtful gestures can really make a difference in someone’s life, and honestly they make you feel good too.

I love getting Christmas Cards. I love the ones that have pictures of families inside or on the cover so I can see friends who are locationally challenged. I try my darndest to make sure I send out Christmas Cards every year (I will inevitably forget someone, and have at least one sent back because I was dyslexic in penning the address.) but I try because I believe the recipients truly appreciate them as much as I do. I try to remember to send birthday cards or at least send some form of birthday wishes to remind my friends I care. I love sending baby butt balm and name flags to new mom’s. I might send a token and a card to someone whose parent has just passed. Perhaps I’ll send a book to someone going through a rough time, or pass along a book I’ve read just so someone else can enjoy it. Little gestures like this can really make someone’s day. Even something as small as smiling at a stranger, holding a door or elevator or picking up something a child has dropped in the grocery store when the mother is also wearing an infant. All of these things are small, minute really, but when you do them it can really make someone’s day.

So I challenge you. Do something simple today to make someone’s day. As my very inspirational friend Cathy would say “Throw kindness around like confetti” and see what happens.

Cheers!