I’m Published!!!

Poetry will always be my first love when it comes to writing.  I love the freedom from rules and stringing words together to make them whisper softly to your soul.  Today one of my poems is being featured at Mamalode.

I wrote this poem for all the fellow moms who have helped me in this journey of motherhood. Check it out it’s called Strength in Numbers.

And if your a Mom and you haven’t checked out Mamalode. . Do it! It’s a great place to read stories written by other moms to inspire, help and share the joys and pains of motherhood.

Much love to all,

Lisa

P.S. I only get paid if it people go to the site and read the poem, so please take a minute and get inspired and help a mom earn some extra cash!

Sometimes the Guilt just keeps Coming

When you’re a working mom you are doused almost daily with guilt.  Guilt that you leave your child with someone so you can go to work.  Guilt that you don’t spend enough time with your child.  Guilt that you leave your child with a babysitter so you can have some adult time.  Guilt that you set you child in front of the television for 30 minutes so you can make dinner.  It pummels you from all corners and some days are so much worse than others. . .

The other day I had a heavy workload day and towards the end of the day I look up only to have an “oh shit” moment.  It was 4:11, I need to shut down and haul butt out of the building.  I usually leave work at 4 so I can pick up my child no later than 5pm.  I leave hurriedly only to be reminded by the gauges on my car that I’m going to have to stop and get gas on my way between work and daycare.  The whole way driving to pick my child up I am riddled with feelings of guilt.  I don’t like leaving him at school any longer than I have to.  I should have been paying better attention to the clock.  Traffic just plain sucks the whole way and I finally wind up at his daycare about 5:15.

Already riddled with guilt I step into his classroom only to see his crying face through the glass door leading to the playground.  My heart crumbles and I pick him up as soon as I make my way outside.  I take inventory of the situation.  Not even a handful of kids are outside and the teacher is not one of his normal teachers.  She leaves her post talking to the other teacher from across playground gate separating the older kids from the younger to make sure I know he has been “fussy” for about the last 20 minutes or so (The time I normally would have picked him up by.) as she lets me back in the building.  Another teacher is inside cleaning and lets me know she had been sitting outside with him holding him while he fussed until she was summoned away to begin her cleaning duties.  This does not bring me any comfort.

My heart is heavy.  I hug my child and carry him out to the car.  We take our time getting in the car while.  When I slide into the drivers seat I fight back tears and clear my throat to get rid of any sadness.  I am angry that the teacher was just standing around chatting and not making an effort to comfort my child.  I am so angry I wonder if this situation warrants an email to the director. . . I am also feeling guilty I left work late and picked him up late.  I hate the barrage of feelings that are bombarding me from all directions.

We get home and cuddle and play and do a lot of his favorite crazy rambunctious things to take our mind off the roughness of the afternoon.  My husband assures me that things like this will happen on occasion and I cannot let the feelings control me.  Just enjoy the time we do have together instead.  So we do.  We squash away those feelings of guilt and flood our hearts instead with joy and togetherness.

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What Working Mom’s do during their “Lunch Break”

If you ever wonder what us working moms do during our lunch break I can tell you we are sometimes lucky to actually squeeze food into the lunch break. . . it’s all about getting as many tasks completed that we can do sans child so that we can spend more quality time with the kiddos.

This is what we do. . .

We run errands.  We buy dry goods from the grocery store, anything we can leave in the car without fear of spoiling or melting or becoming toxic while it sits there in our car from lunch until we make it home.  We pick up pet food from Petsmart or Petco. We get gifts for birthdays and holidays.  We get our oil changed.  We go to the bank.  We renew our registrations.

We stay in the office and catch up on household business.  We make phone calls. We schedule appointments.  We research classes and things to do with the kiddos when we are with them.  We make sure the bills are paid.  We budget.  We make meal plans and grocery lists.  We catch up on emails that are long overdue for an answer.  We write on our blogs. We read parenting articles. We finish making costumes or crafts for upcoming holiday parties for the kiddo.  We try to figure out other jobs where we could work from home.  Sometimes we even try to read a few chapters in the never- ending stack of books telling us “the correct” way to parent while sitting in front of our desks eating a salad, a sandwich, or last night’s leftovers.

If we are lucky we quietly eat an actual lunch at our desk quickly in about 15 minutes so we can leave early to pick up the kids because there’s always a little bit of guilt tugging our heart strings that we are working moms.

If we are super stressed we call in the big guns and schedule an overdue lunch date with one of our closest friends, because meeting them at the park with the kiddos Saturday mornings only allows for about 10 minutes of actual adult conversation while a lunch date allows 45+ minutes of actual adult conversation plus some much-needed stress relief.

So, in case you’ve ever wondered what we do. . . that is what we do.

My Fellow Moms, YOU Are my Hero’s.     

I don’t think I would have survived this journey of motherhood without all of the support showered upon me by you.  I thought I understood even before my the bundle of joy even arrived that having a child would change my life, but until I was thick in the middle of the experience I don’t think I fully grasped  how my life would change.

This motherhood stuff is hard.

It’s physically hard. There is the challenge of forcing your body to function with little to no sleep for months at a time.  There is the awkwardness of sharing your body with a little person for food and for comfort.  The act of giving birth itself wreaks havoc on your body and the changes your body goes through while amazing, can produce fear and discomfort while you learn to adjust.

Motherhood is mentally grueling.  It’s laborious to learn how to balance all the different hats you must wear as a women (mother, wife, friend, employee) while learning how to care for this new life and still  find time to take care of yourself in the process.  I struggled with this.  I cannot express in words how monumental this struggle was for me and still is for me.

I want to take this moment to thank you.  It is because of you, my fellow moms, that I have survived this journey.  It is because of you that I learn to flourish.  It is because of you that I continue to grow into the Mother I want to be.  You are the ones that walk with me on this journey.  You are the ones that whisper encouragement.  You are some badass moms.

Thank you stay at home mother of 5 who was always around to answer my first time mommy questions, even in the middle of the night because who else do you ask these questions to but someone who has done it 5 times.  If she didn’t have an answer she would help me find an answer.

Thank you, therapist-working mom friend who let me know that fighting with my husband after the babe was born was normal.  NORMAL!  I cannot tell you what a mountain of relief that one little word was to me.  It set me back on track and helped me breathe again.

Thank you breast feeding, working mom friends who encouraged me to keep breastfeeding and pumping.  Who showed me that it could be done for an extended period of time even working full time and traveling.  While I didn’t have to travel, seeing the sacrifices you made to offer this wonderful thing to your children while working full-time was a huge encouragement for me and helped me make it past the one year mark for breastfeeding my own child.

And a huge thank you to the diverse group of mom’s in my online mommy’s group.  You ladies always shout encouragement at one another.  You never balk when the same question is asked over and over when a new mom enters the group.  You help teach each other about not only taking care of these wonderful children in the best ways we can, but you also share how we need to also take care of ourselves.

All you ladies are BADASSMOMS.

Things to know if you’re the Mother of a Toddler Boy

Little boys will be little boys. They are wild creatures that create messes out of thin air. Dirt, bugs, and small creatures are all new and exciting things to be explored and conquered. You are now the mother of a little explorer and you too will become an adventurer during your journey together. To get through the toddler years here are a few tips.

You need to have a good pair of sneaker and a pair of mud boots

Boys like to play outside which means you will also be playing outside. I highly recommend investing in a good pair of sneakers so you are adequately equipped to keep up with your child. Toddlers acquire the amazing ability of speed overnight and sneakers are a necessity when you must climb after them after they get themselves in a pickle on the highest piece of playground equipment at the park. If you fail to remember the sneakers you will curse yourself and your normal attire of heels or flip flops just. Your newly acquired taste in footwear doesn’t stop there, though. Rain boots will become another must-have accessory at this stage in your little one’s development.  Boys don’t understand why they can’t go outside when it’s raining, and after trying to keep them inside during a week of rainy days sometimes making the journey outside in the rain is better for the both of you. (Our sanity does have limitations.) He will want to splash in all the puddles and when he falls down face first in the middle of the biggest puddle in the immediate vicinity you will want to have your mud boots on so you can easily retrieve him.

You must show no fear in the face of bugs.

While inside you might be screaming (like the little girl that still lives inside you) on the outside you must show a calm steady exterior as you explore nature and bugs with your little boy and he places a wriggling worm in the palm of your hand. You don’t want your child to be afraid of bugs in general (he is a boy after all) so you must make a pointed effort to yourself be fearless in the face of bugs. At the same time, you do want to teach your child the bugs that will “hurt you,” so they do not try to pick up those particular bugs. “Ant’s bite you and Bee’s sting you” are recited almost daily in our household during our many treks through the backyard. Teaching the kiddo’s about bugs does pay off. . .in our house squishing bugs is fine, and once the babe learned this trick he is more than happy to help me “squish em”. I have high hopes I can pass off all bug squashing duties to him and his father in the near future.

Always check their pants pockets before you do the laundry

A boyfriends’ mom once gave me the following handy piece of advice when telling tales of her own adventurer. “Always, always, check the pockets,” she said.  She failed to do this once and ended up washing a reptile friend her explorer was planning on keeping (yet failed to mention to her).  Other things you might want to watch out for are bugs, sticks, rocks, cars, and anything else small enough to fit in the pockets of a small boy the might wreak havoc on your washer.

All meaningful breakables should be put out of reach

How do little people cause so much destruction?  It never ceases to amaze me what kinds of things my child will break.  Fatalities have included dishes, ceramic keepsakes, child proofing latches and hooks, and books.  My husband had (notice I use the past tense) a quarter scale, upright base from his band days that had since turned into a decorative piece nestled in a corner of our home. Our little one crashed into it at just the right angle and smashed it into several pieces. My husband was upset.  I was upset. It’s a hard lesson to learn that neglecting to keep things out of the reach of curious little toddler hands can lead to casualties’ of meaningful keepsakes.  I knew that this would probably just be one of many catastrophes to come, so since then if it’s breakable and meaningful it’s either packed up and put away or on a high shelf where inquisitive little fingers cannot wrap themselves around it.

5 Ways Pets Prepared Me for Motherhood

For years I worked in animal rescue and when I finally took the plunge from fur babies to human babies I quickly learned that those years in animal rescue helped prepare me for the adventures of motherhood (or did they?)

Grooming

You would think clipping hundreds of tiny little cat claws and dog nails would help prepare you for the task of trying to clip tiny little human nails. I’ll take trimming a critter’s nails over those of a squirmy little babe any day. At least with the critters you can wrap them in a towel or lie on top of them and accomplish the job in one sitting. (I don’t think CPS would take too kindly if you tried these methods with your mini human). When trimming the nails of a toddler I am lucky to get one hand’s worth of nails total in one sitting, it takes all week to get all 20 little fingers and toes trimmed and by the time you do accomplish this feat, it’s time to start over.

Rise and Shine

I had a diabetic cat for a period of time that required insulin shots in the morning and evening with his morning and evening meal. This cat would wake me up every morning by sitting on the pillow and meowing next to my head. If I would shoo him away he would sit in the hallway (just outside of sock throwing range) and continue his serenade until I would get my lazy butt out of bed to give him his shot and his breakfast. This helped prepare me for a toddler who bounces awake first thing in the morning, pulls all my covers off, grabs my hand and tugs me out of bed.  (In all honestly both ways are more effective than the alarm clock that has a snooze button.)

Rules Boundaries and Limitations

According to expert dog trainer, Cesar Milan when training dogs you need to give them rules, boundaries, and limitations.  His same theory can be applied to training; um, I mean teaching, your toddlers and small children. You must be the pack leader. You set the rules for the child and if they do not follow the rules they can go to time out (although I don’t suggest using the dog kennel for the child’s time out, again CPS might frown upon this practice). Repetition will be required. When your child masters following commands, um, I mean behaving properly, a trip to the park is a great reward. Unlike with pups I do not recommend using food as a reward during training with children (unless it’s broccoli and mini carrots).

Poo

If you have pets you are already somewhat of an expert at poo, or so you think. Let me warn you cleaning cat boxes and picking up poo in the yard is nothing compared to the bowels of a baby. Hand me the litter scoop and doggie bags any day because I’d much rather clean up that mess than the one in my child’s diaper. I did quickly learn, though, the doggie poo bags are excellent for bagging dirty, smelly diapers.  I promise you one of the best tricks I ever learned was keeping a roll of doggie poo bags in the diaper bag, you never know when they will come in handy.

Unconditional Love

One thing that’s great about our pets is that they shower us with unconditional love. Dogs are super happy to see us when we get home every day, drowning us in slobbery kisses and cats will rub against your legs and purr (especially if you’re near the food bowl to show us they at least tolerate our presence in their house). A child’s response to us is even more heartwarming. Their little eyes light up when we pick them up from daycare and they run uncontrollably around the room screaming and expressing their joy at our return. They throw their little arms around us and smile and laugh. It is in those little smiles and laughs and the almost bursting fullness you feel in your heart that will lead you to realize that this is a love that your pets never even came close to preparing you for.

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Bang, Bang, Bang Goes the Baby

Bang, Bang, BANG. 

You watch in horror as your child smacks their head on the couch, the wall, the floor, their crib, a door, your leg… whatever happens to be closest to them at the moment. You think to yourself, “That was odd,” and hope you were just hallucinating from lack of sleep. 

Bang, Bang, BANG. 

Your child then repeats this odd and rather concerning behavior of banging their head and this being the second time you witness this feat, your throat drops into the pit of your stomach as you realize you were NOT hallucinating. Your child is indeed purposely banging their head on things. Now your whole body is tingling and your mind is racing as minor panic mode sets in. You are convinced there is something seriously wrong with your child, so you do what all mothers do best when they have a problem, you Google that shit. You read article, after article until you come to the conclusion your child is indeed a “Headbanger”.

Research says that about 20% of children are headbangers. Reading statistics like this does not make us, as mothers, feel any better. We don’t want our child to be part of statistics like this, and if it’s so common why do none of our friends children seem to be doing it?

Why is my child banging their head?

There could be many reasons you child is banging their head. Self-soothing, pain relief, an outlet for frustration, attention seeking and in some cases developmental disorders seem to be the main reasons toddlers head bang.  So, great how do I know which category my child falls into?

In the cases of self-soothing and pain frustration, the offenders often bang their head repeatedly or rhythmically while they are playing or when trying to sooth themselves while the crib. Frustration bangers head banging seems to come more in bursts when they can properly express their feelings or become overly stimulated. Attention seekers may head bang when they want attention from you. Head banging can be a sign or a developmental disorder, but I caution you not to burst into tears yet as headbanging alone is not enough to diagnose a developmental disorder and head banging in itself is quite common.

So what do I do?

Some researchers say you should ignore the behavior, that they will outgrow it. That might be easy for them to say but they don’t have to witness this odd behavior several (or a lot more than several) times a day every day. I am sorry, but when my child is doing a behavior to himself that seems hurtful I am definitely not going to stand around to watch the show.  Every time he would smack his head on a cabinet or door, or even the floor I would cringe and fight back tears. There had to be better advice than Ignore the behavior.

We tried holding him when he got frustrated and telling him “No hurt baby,” when he would bang his head.  We tried really hard to make sure he got lots of positive attention.  We rocked him, a lot.  We would place him in a room with carpet, pillows or a bed so he wouldn’t hurt himself (as badly). I figured out my child was a frustration head banger and I engaged other moms for advice. One comment a mother said stood out with me.  She said not to worry too much, that it lessens with time and growing communication skills. We had already been trying to teach the babe sign language, but after this comment we ramped up the signing effort and I also made an extra effort to observe him more intensely so I wasn’t missing any of his communication cues. For us the sign language helped immensely. The more he learned to communicate with us the more the head banging began to diminish.

The experts say that most children outgrow head banging by age three, so between now and then while you are trying to deal with this newly discovered toddler trait, try not to worry too much, keep your child as safe as you can while they are head banging, repeat to yourself, it will be okay.  I found this snippet by Dr. Alan Greene to help me, “Curiously, one large study of this habit in healthy children found head-bangers to be measurably advanced compared to their peers. If anything, then, head banging in healthy children can be a sign of increased intelligence.”  It made me think the problems of head banging might be small compared to the problems that come with a highly intelligent child.