The old lady who lived in a shoe.

Nearing the end of my pregnancy and waiting to meet baby, these words have been swimming in my head periodically- a remembrance of my own childhood days, curled up on my bed with my Mother Goose and Dr. Seuss:

"There was an old lady who lived in a shoe. She had so many children, she didn't know what to do."

Getting closer to actually meeting and taking care of another little one, my confidence is weaning a little bit. We have 3 that are 8 and under now and life is pure chaos sometimes. And I'm not talking "order in the chaos" kind of chaos. I'm talking mostly mass hysteria. A lot of times, I stop to take deep breaths and center myself because it feels like my hunny and I are in the middle of a marathon relay race. I pass him the baton and off he goes then it's my turn to rest and on and on in an endless cycle. Since they are all little, I have to often repeat myself which makes my day feel a little Groundhog Day-ish to the point where my husband and I often wake up in the morning quoting the movie: "Okay, campers! Rise and shine and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooooold out there today!" Either that or Paul McCartney's Another Day: "It's just another day, choo, choo, choo, choo, choo, choo..."

While everyone's certainty that all will be well is comforting and reassuring, I don't always feel quite sure myself. Sure my 3 little ones are thriving and happy children so we've done well, but we don't know what kind of variable it will prove to toss another one into the mix. Financially we think WHOAAAAA; emotionally we wonder HOW; logistically we just break out into LAUGHTER. A friend of mine recently shared that on the way home from school from the backseat of the car her daughter expressed concern for me: "Mommy, I hope Pema doesn't end up like my gnomes. They have TOOOOOO many children." I hear you little one, loud and clear!

When I was about to have my 3rd, I cried so much thinking "what have we done?" when thinking about the possible limits to our resources. Turns out, we are sometimes worn thin physically speaking but mostly things have just worked themselves out and we can still have fun with life and with each other. But... one more? What will this look like. I just keep asking myself, "HOOOOOWWWW?"

The upside of asking "How?" is that life always answers, "Like this..." and you are shown the possibilities. The cream rises to the surface. The helpful, loving people appear. The resources find their way to you. You are reminded that magic really does exist and that it is more practical than anyone thinks it is, actually. And you can find the peace and enjoy the gifts of a new situation.

It still feels really frikking scary right now, though.

 

 

Grieving momma.

Some time ago I read a blog that caught my attention over at Brooke Hampton’s Barefoot Five called, “I Don’t Really Like Being a Mom” by Joy Light. I love me some Brooke Hampton and I know she shares only really great and authentic people and since I also love me some taboo-talk, I clicked on it and read. 

The post was about how she loved being a mom to her little beings but that she doesn’t love being a mom, which I totally get. I really appreciate when people are real and aren’t afraid to put it all out there- especially things you’re not supposed to talk about. Some may call that over-sharing but I call it truth, authenticity, and confidence in you doing you.

She also wrote this incredible paragraph that struck my heart in the bullseye with a sharp arrow:

I miss solo psychedelic sojourns in the desert. I miss meditating on the stillness between breaths in hot springs for hours without a thread of responsibility. I miss taking off into the forest for weeks without anyone knowing where I am. 

Those words have been replaying on a loop in my mind since I read them. Those days for me haven’t existed since my eldest little one took her first breath 7+years ago. Then two more came after her. I find myself missing these days fiercely; a burning rage sometimes forms in my belly as if trying to manifest them from sheer will. But I know I know it’s not going to happen because I know it’s not logistically or emotionally possible… nor would I really want it to be. My husband and I have “escaped” for a few long days out and while we often sit in the silence and smile and remember, by the end of the day, we are missing our little ones' warmth and faces. Parenthood is all encompassing and forfuckingever. I don’t remember anyone ever really emphasizing that. It would have been nice, regardless of how obvious a truth it is. 

The thing about these words I find heartbreaking, particularly at this moment, is that when a momma needs to grieve it has to be mostly weaved into her days. I have a very supportive partner and we do co-parent full on so I have been given time to have my quiet moments to grieve things but real life always seems to rush back in way too fast. And then you sneak a cry here and you fall apart in the shower there but it's not enough and then suddenly  you just can’t get out of bed- it’s just NOT going to happen- and your kids come over, tilt their heads over horizontally and with their cute little faces ask you, "Are you okay momma?" I don't try to hide my grief usually and while I don't always share what is hurting to not make them sad, I think seeing people process and manage pain is important. It also helps to get their incredible comfort and love in the way only children know how to give it. It is the best soothing balm ever. 

But I LOVE being alone. I love silence. When I need to grieve these things are no longer a momma’s luxury but a necessity. Taking off into the forest for weeks would be so sublime right now. I can close my eyes and see it… see me running through the trees, wind on my face, the sound of leaves rustling, that delicious smell of trees and nature, and yellow bathing everything. Mommas hold so many hearts… they get so vast with love. Who can hold a momma’s heart while she hurts?

The only capable container for me is Nature. Mommas can hold so much; our hearts run so deep. I feel consoled in the duality of nature because she is honest about it…

“Here, for all to see… every day I am light and dark; I give you the sun and the moon; I am sacred and profane. I am never the same, here look at my seasons! I change every day, every month, every year... it's okay. You can do it too. I put it all out there so you can let it rip!”

It’s one of the few places left in the world where I can feel myself. 

Momma Nature.

Thank Goddess for her.

Know Your Kid.

I’m sitting in the kitchen right now having a conversation with John (my husband) regarding parenting. We just heard Gary V address a question regarding the topic.

Me being the feisty one I am, I said, “I’m not listening to Gary V give anyone parenting advice if he’s not a parent! Only parents can really talk about parenting!”

John quickly cleared up that Gary V IS a parent and that he just doesn’t like to talk about his kids on his podcast or in his body of work (understandably so), so I listened in…

“I have 3 children and if you could give me 3 quick things to build their self confidence I’d appreciate it.”

Then Gary V went on to tell this listener what his mom did for him:

  1. She over exaggerated praise when he was kind, empathetic, and polite to others.

2. She didn’t give out 8th place trophies.

3. She made him feel that he was unstoppable and she really believed it. She audited him and figured out what he was strong at, then made 98% of the conversation about that (most people focus 85% on the 2% of what their kids are not). “A child doesn’t need to be a geometry whiz if he loves to sing all day.” Comprenez-vous?

He closed it out with, “know your kid” and “build self-esteem.”

This made me stop in my tracks and realize I often go about my middle kid in the absolutely wrong way. Even though I LOVE him so much, I often spend time thinking, “How can I get him to slow down and quiet down?” That’s such a waste of time! He is who he is. My husband and I both expressed how much we don’t want to break our kids like we were broken. Sure, we are putting ourselves back together now and that’s all great but my goddesss… all the time we spent on someone else’s path will never be given back to us. A dear and very wise friend of mine said to me one day, “If John had had a different upbringing, we would all be traveling interstellar space with our eyes closed right now and living amazing lives until we were 300.” I got what she meant. I understood that she saw in him a potential that was overlooked and stifled. I know he and many other of our peers have felt confused, lost, and stuck in some insufferable holding pattern for a long time due to consequences from disconnected parenting. A parent can change the world. What he or she does with his child can and often do have far-reaching effects that ripple out forever and ever and ever. Imagine if all parents understood the enormity of this? Would we all make attempts at more connection and understanding? I think so.

Under normal circumstances, all parents love their children. No one really argues that I think… at least, I don’t. Despite the love, however, several of the generations that came before us certainly missed the “Know your kid; build self-esteem” memo.

I just want to say to parents, please take the time to get to know your child and when you find out who they are PLEASE build on that. Make them more of who they already are because they already ARE THAT and why try to reinvent the wheel or fight such a strong current? If I would have been tyrannical and nasty enough, I could have perhaps tamed my four year old into submission and quiet behavior long ago, but then he would be broken- perhaps forever.

John and I are lucky. We’re in the process of rebuilding ourselves now that we truly feel our lives are in our hands and have been for quite some years now. WE are eons from where we started. At the time of this writing we are ecstatic about having taken on an adventure by accepting taking on a huge project to Costa Rica and moving our family down there in a couple of weeks.  We are looking forward to many, many things- one of the small ones being the ability to naked sun bathe in the morning in our own backyard. This is one way we know we are eons from our conditioning and upbringing because growing up we were both taught the sun was bad and that our bodies were never meant to be exposed and enjoyed freely. So, we’ve come a long way. But there’s still a lot of road to cover, at least as far as freedom and self-confidence go.

We are going to try to save our kids a lot of time and confusion and allow them their own unique place in the world. We love who they are and we’re not going to confuse them or ourselves by acting outside of love and acceptance due to some faulty programming. 

Thanks for your wisdom today, Gary V.

Snips, snails, and puppy dog tails; sugar, spice, and everything nice.

Men are insensitive.Women love to shop and wear makeup.

Men don't cry.

Women are irrational and dramatic.

Men love porn and sports.

Women are nurturing and good at homemaking.

Men are always horny.

Women aren't as sexual as men.

Men are physically strong.

Women are the weaker sex.

Do any of these sound familiar to you? The better question is, do they feel familiar to you?

These are all things we were taught and perhaps handed down unknowingly to our children, if we have any. This is what society teaches us explicitly and implicitly through media and unspoken social norms.

As open-minded and progressive as I believe I am, last night as I lay in bed in the dark in the wee hours, staring up at the ceiling, I thought about how I have contributed to the passing down of some of these insane social laws. I say "laws" because there is a definite gender police ready to shame you and give you a verbal warning if you stray from these norms, even if you never signed on to abide by them. I felt pangs of guilt as I realized I had treated my son (my second) with more harshness and less patience than I had ever treated my daughter (my first) when they hit the challenging toddler phase. The worst part about it is that I hadn't even realized it until it was too late. Somewhere hidden in my brain was the decision that men were stronger and could withstand spanking and harsher discipline and girls weren't able to handle that. That men only understand the physical and women understand words and intellectualizations. That to foster connections to the physical realm in boys and to the intellectual world in girls was not only better for them than the other but essential to their wellbeing in this categorical world.

Putting aside how much of a mess I felt while transitioning from one child to two, how hard that actually is, and the impatience and frustration that came from that, I treated my little son with much more physicality than I did my daughter. "You don't want to brush your teeth? Then I'm going to take you against your will." And I did... I would grab him by the arm and take him while he flailed his arms and wrangled his whole body and yelled the whole way. I never, ever did that to my daughter. I felt like that would break her spirit. Why I regret this so deeply now is because after a few years of being my son's mother, I realize that he was born incredibly sensitive. Not just emotionally but physically. He senses energy- of people and places- like no one I have ever seen (even more than me). But since he was born in the physical body of a boy, my programming deemed it okay to manhandle him and spank him if I thought he needed the discipline and yell when he wasn't listening. Now at almost four years old, I am taking the necessary steps back to balance. I shower him with love and kind words but he knows I mean business when the moment calls for it.

While I never did the princess thing with my daughter, I did treat her more softly and talk to her and explain things to her much more than I did to my son. I'm sure some of it had to do with the fact I had more time to do so with her, but I'm sure some of it was programming too. Which is why I encourage everyone to question all their actions, beliefs, and motives towards themselves and others because we all have so. much. SHTUFF. inside of us that is not genuinely ours. So much shame. So many taboos. So many rules that were set for us, without our knowledge or consent. Let's look deeply inside ourselves and see what we need to throw out, shall we? To this day, I am surprised at what I find.

By the time my 3rd was born, I had worked out a lot of my issues with gender stereotypes and roles and made sure I treated him as he cued me to. What can this individual child tell me about his inner life? What does he have to say to me about what he prefers as far as learning goes? How does he communicate with me? How physical or not physical is he? How sensitive is he? How does he like to play? How does he like to receive affection? All are important questions when raising each child individually and- just as important- when re-raising yourself.

The topic of raising and mothering oneself is always a touchy one. No one likes to consider that their parents were lacking and many won't approach the topic out of fear they will disrespect their parents. Especially when many parents have a sacrificed a lot to raise their children and given a lot of love, time, and affection. Re-raising oneself is mutually exclusive from the gratitude and love some of us may feel for our parents. We were all born imperfect. As I say, this is the learning planet. We didn't come here to float on fluffy clouds and be fanned with palm fronds. We came to do the work. We came to learn and evolve, individually and collectively. So, we were parented imperfectly due to the simple fact that we are all imperfect. No blame. No guilt. Just fact. When you look at parenting from this lens, you can let go of what you think your parents owe you or what you owe your parents. From here you can step into the very mature role of filling in the gaps that were created between the child your parents raised and the true, whole, unique person that YOU are.

A lot of these gaps have their origins in these gender and sex rules.

Who knows the exact difference  between "gender" and "sex"? Most of us don't. I didn't until I looked it up so don't be embarrassed...

Gender: the state of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones).

Sex: either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and many other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.

So,  gender has to do with your emotions and sex has to do with your actual machinery.

We teach girls and boys to never stray from their gender or their sex and thereby make life black and white and a whole lot of boring.

I think, "What if I was allowed to freely feel good being vocal and strong and defending myself growing up?"

... "What if I wasn't always gifted dolls and sparkly things and soft fuzzy things?"

... "What if I had female superheroes to look up to instead of always feeling like I should aspire to be a sidekick or a love interest to the hero?"

... "What if I was taught that I could and should enjoy sex?"

I asked my husband (awakened and wonderful man that he is) as I wrote this to ask himself questions about re-writing the scenarios of his upbringing and he asks:

"What if I wasn't expected by my culture to lose my virginity at a whorehouse at 14?"

... "What if my mom wouldn't have been so demanding of perfection?"

... "What if I wasn't expected to be number one at everything that I did?"

... "What if there wasn't a pre-conceived, religious notion that sex was bad and that it was better kept hidden?"

... "What if I would have been encouraged to follow my dreams without any barriers?"

... "What if I wasn't expected to be macho?"

... "What if being a lothario had not been expected of me or applauded by my culture?"

You can't spend too much time on "what if's" because the time has passed and what we have is NOW. But they are worth taking some time to think about because they clue you in to your specific gaps. They can inform you where you are needing nurturing and perhaps some re-defining of your self. Take the cues and then move on. Blaming is a waste of time. Change and re-creation is the name of the game.

In this new game there are no rules except those that you declare for yourself.

Come play. All are welcome. Shoes and shirts are absolutely not required.

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Magic.

My daughter lost a tooth last week and- as she always does whenever she loses a tooth- she runs down her list of what she hopes the tooth fairy will leave her under her pillow. This time, after a very long list, she concluded with, "What I really want are magical wings that I can use whenever I want to fly!" She said it with her bright beautiful eyes shining and while bouncing. She does everything while bouncing. The last few teeth were the same... she wished for magical things: a magic wand that would grant her and her family any wishes forever; a magic rainbow; a magic potion bottle. And just like the last few times, she got pretty boring surprises compared to what she asked for. This time, she got a pair of mermaid earrings.

I picked mermaids to keep some element of magic in this funny exchange of enamel for goodies.

When she woke up, she cried and had a tantrum. "I didn't want mermaid earrings! I wanted magical wings. I don't think magic exists. I'll never get anything that's magic ever ever." And she sobbed on the sofa. I had no idea how to handle this one.

I took a moment to consider the situation. All my parenting tricks and shortcuts would be of no help because her sobs were real and she was inconsolably sad as she cried for what was possibly her first sense of loss of magic and wonder in the world.

I had recently read Dr. Shefali Tsabary's book "The Awakened Family" so my mind went there. It started scanning all the parent/child scenarios within its pages but there was really nothing of this kind. What I did recall was the overarching message of the book- that we are simply and only holding our childrens' hands on the parenting journey. We need to put down the control, the tyranny, and the megalomania.

So, I went over to the sofa and just hugged her. I acknowledged her sadness and hugged as tight as I could. I didn't try to talk it away. I just sat with her in her disappointment. I held her until she didn't need me anymore. When she was ready she got up, took a deep breath, and walked to the playroom. I felt satisfied with that moment in parenting- I don't get many good ones lately. It's summer and the kids are constantly arguing and annoyed and "bored".

Life has really tried and tossed my family these past few years. The kids are mostly unaware because- lucky for them- they are still in their world of wonder. I couldn't help but think about that moment with her on the sofa this morning. I had given something to my daughter that I had not been given. I had held her hand in a moment where in my own life no hand had been offered. Isn't that magic? I don't remember when I stopped believing and being a witness to magic but I did- for many, many years. It's only now, as an adult (or so I hear that's what I have become), that I am reclaiming its existence in my life.

But I have a confession...

I've never read Harry Potter!

Right?! You'd think that I would have torn through those books. But no. I actually had quite an aversion to them for a while. It was my knee jerk rejection to the topic of magic after it had packed its bags and moved quite far away from me. In the world of hazy alcohol and high superficiality I lived in and was poorly navigating, there was no room for tapping into my source of higher woman power. There was NONE of that. So, no time for magic, Harry. Wingardium Leviosa back atcha and good day.

When I finally watched some of the movies (just a few years ago) I LOVED them. Hooray for Hermione (and for Emma Watson who uses her practical magic as a vocal feminist)! I had at that point let magic back in so Harry Potter charmed me so much and reminded me of everything I wanted to be real in childhood.

I know these days magic is considered woowoo and fringe. Of course, I'm not suggesting that I have a pet unicorn, ride a flying broom, and will take the seven kingdoms with the help of my 3 dragons (I would love to have Khaleesi's wardrobe, though). The magic I know to be true is subtle and powerful. I am unsure where the source of men's magic is, but for women it's in our center and our center is our womb. Creation comes from our wombs and isn't creation a pure and absolute form of magic? What is there to believe in? It's fact. We can create life. Period. (And speaking of our periods...)

Because of our challenging situations, it has been hard to feel the magic. Life has felt so mundane. At times, I feel I grieve the innocence of childhood and the belief in all kinds of magic and fantastical things. In those moments, I make it a point to become more aware. In awareness, I find a ton of magic. I find it in my breath. I find high magic in nature. I find incredible layers upon layers of magic in my dreams. When I feel it, it's like I found the fountain of youth. I am suddenly ageless and time stands still.

I'll never ever tell my daughter magic doesn't exist. I will never tell her anything is make believe.  I will hold her hand whenever she feels disconnected from the magical though. I will guide her to where she can find it again and let her rediscover it in her own special places and in her own time.

 

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Raw.

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Once upon a time I heard that life carves deep ravines in you by way of pain so that one day you can be deeply filled with love. Over the years I have changed so much but never as much as I did at the 22nd year of my life. One day in said year, I decided to get breast implant surgery because I had reached the peak of unhappiness with my lack of shape. Not graced with any hip curves or big breasts or an ample backside (these had somehow been programmed to be part of "the ideal woman" in my psyche) I set out to do something about it. When I woke up from that procedure and the general anesthesia began to wear off, I looked around me and knew my life had changed forever. I even said out loud to the nurse attending me, "Something is different" and that statement had nothing to do with the two new mounds jotting out from my chest. I felt different in every way.

I got home and began a tremendous healing process. One that took a month, or a few years, or one that goes on today, depending on who you ask. My poles had shifted. I had gotten the breasts I had always longed for but I no longer really wanted them. I stayed home for a month in pajamas, with waves after relentless waves of panic attacks pounding me; I quit my job; quit some friends; I began to lose my self. Suddenly I turned the dial off on so many things that were relevant to me while perceiving enormous amounts of new things that weren't really new but new to my eyes that now could SEE. I had glimpses of discomfort such as this growing up- slight panic attacks in my bed at different times growing up while I was in bed at night with my eyes closed whiletrying to understand the meaning and the scope of the infinite. But all of this... this was a point of no return.

If memory serves me correctly (which sometimes it doesn't now approaching forty), the change was more of an internal conflict at first. I grappled with anxiety and depression for a long time, mostly in silence. I would find myself keeled over in the fetal position many nights trying to salvage whatever dignity or shred of self-esteem I could hold on to. After that initial month of major consciousness shifting post-surgery, I found meditation and yoga and they would be the life preserver that would bring me back to shore time and time again throughout the course of my life.

Then I met a man who finished the process of turning the rock into a shining crazy diamond. He was the first man I ever felt something beyond words for but he was lukewarm for me, at best. The process of loving him was one I never regret even though it stung badly at the time because it completely turned all the lights on inside the house. He was the spark that ignited a unique inner fire I had not yet acquainted myself with. Through his lack of attention, he helped me find my feminist, my intellectual, a deeper insight into my rebelliousness, my inner guru, and my self-love. After him, I spent the better part of five years alone to gather myself, recuperate, go inside and find out what was in there, and what it was that I wanted to express out there.

Then I met my husband. Who- besides being the most incredible and awakened soul on the planet- was the perfect person to receive the ME that had emerged from all the breakdowns and time up on the lift. Before him, I ended up at the door of every next man bruised and broken and desperate for repair. But when I met him, full of self-knowledge, love, and awareness, I knew taking time for myself was the right thing to do and that whatever I had done during that time to discover myself was so, soooo good because this man would not share his life, his heart, his truth with just anyone.

Then we had our children.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had no idea what labor and birth would be like. I thought it might hurt. Hahahahahaha. Then when I found myself in the final pushes before her birth, when I thought I just couldn't anymore and thought I may have to ask for drugs or a hospital, I felt the soul of Everywoman permeate the room and I was transported to a place where every single woman that ever lived, lives, and will ever live were holding hands, forming a circle around me, and swaying side to side chanting a soothing song and infusing me with a strength that beamed out from their hearts and wombs that I never knew I had. Then, one more push and our first little was born to us and to herself Earth side. That was another moment I knew I would never return to whatever was before that moment. And then my midwife put her on my chest...

And then I knew that every ravine was overflowing with love and joy and many things words could not express.

And I knew that I had always been okay. No, more than okay... I had always been good. And enough. And more than enough, actually.

My crazy life played back in my mind- all the drinking, heartbreaks, friends lost, experiments, regrets, successes, mistakes, what ifs, trips, music, laughter, tears. It was all good because I was now holding this tiny beautiful piece of the universe that had grown into a little person in my womb in my arms and she was suckling at my breast.

I felt the exact same thing when my son was born. And again when my second son was born in the same way as his brother and sister, in a warm pool of water in our home, surrounded by our loving midwives.

Now my first little one is of school age. She made me a necklace with her little thumbprint on it. I wore it all day today and I recalled the time, before life had carved all this space to carry and love these immense souls, when I would have preferred shiny, expensive jewelry over a piece of handmade clay with a thumbprint on it.

I feel so full and happy.

Happy Mother's Day to every mother on Earth.

<3

My Favorite Part by Jessica Peill-Meininghaus

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Being a mother is one of the most exquisitely; painfully beautiful roles one can play and it is my favorite part.

The feel of my children turning somersaults in the watery world of my womb and nursing into the wee hours of the night, year after year felt like an eternity at the time, an eternity that passed by in the breadth of a second. Reading books out loud until I was hoarse, looking for gnomes and fairies on every single walk and in our yard, daily and making art together for hours seemed like it would be a part of my life forever- but I knew that that wasn't true. I knew that the little giggles and baby smiles, the tantrums and colic, the cuddles that fit their chubby little bodies into my lap, would someday pass and I was scared because that is what motherhood looked like to me. That is what I knew, what I had wanted since I was two years, sitting in my tiny rocking chair, nursing my baby doll while my mother rocked my brother to sleep.

So now, I look at these giants that came from me, well into the double digit years, mostly teenagers, and all definitely adolescents, and I wonder what motherhood means as it evolves and grows. I’m sure it varies from person to person, circumstance to circumstance but I always want it to come back to love, to know that it is rooted in this elemental piece of life.

 My mother still mothers me as I head towards forty as her mother, mothered her as she headed toward sixty and I don’t believe there is an end in sight- thank goodness! Isn’t that what we do until we are cut off by the cessation of our breath? We seem to be driven to mother by an urge so deep and so primal that to deny it is to deny the air we need to survive.

 This isn’t the need to manipulate our children’s movements or motivations or tell them how it should be or who they should be but the drive to encourage them to find themselves, help others, make the world a more peaceful, beautiful place and love all that makes them who they are. It is a drive to help them as long as we can without interfering to the point of their rebellion in the hopes that they have less pain and more joy than we can imagine, than we, perhaps, experienced in our lives.

 I wonder on a daily basis if I am modeling enough love, acceptance, forgiveness and open mindedness and what I can do better. So, I offer suggestions and like many mothers I plead and praise, rant and rave, cry and laugh in turn because the stakes couldn’t be higher and there is no manual that fits each mother, each child and each moment- we just do our best. But that’s the best part, isn’t it? That element of adventure, of unpredictability that keeps us on our toes, that frustrates us and elates us, that makes it real, keeps us present and creative and wears us into a soft place (we hope) like the Velveteen Rabbit-- A place where we become our true selves; REAL, flaws and all-- Sticky like a mango in the sun, sweet and tart and juicy and full to the brim with flavor.

 Sometimes, I wake in the middle of the night wondering: “Am I doing this right? Do they know that I am trying to meet each of them and help them on their journey as they continue to become themselves? It was so much easier when they were little, wasn't it? Do they know that I love them so much that sometimes I can’t breathe because there is no room left in my body for anything else but my love for them? Is this how my mother feels?” I know it is. And I know that they know. How can they not?—Deep down in the dark, rhythmic pumping of their hearts, they feel the beat that my heart played for them when they still swam in me, tethered by a spiraling cord that joined our blood. They know because I whispered it into their sleeping ears while they curled against me and when they came to me with scrapes and bumps and now, when we argue as they struggle to be separate and understand the newness of themselves and how they fit into this dynamic world. It’s the song a mother sings: Love, love, love, always and forever, love.

 Often, on drives I will look with awe in the rearview mirror of our ancient minivan and count their heads- one, two, three, four. All of them there, still with me for this brief moment in our lives before we scatter apart and they seek their own adventures. Who knows how long we have? The only thing that is certain is that we have right now- nothing more, I remind myself. Why wait? So, I say it, knowing that they have heard it a thousand times and seen it in my eyes more than that, knowing that they may smile or roll their eyes a little bit to shrug off the less than cool proclamation of a mother’s love to her teenage child:

 “You’re my favorite part of this life,” I tell them. “You’re my dessert- it’s the best part, you know- that’s you. If you forget everything else, remember that."

 I don’t cry, I know that upsets and embarrasses them and I always try hard to sound relaxed but solid- I want there to be solidity there because these words are never really enough.

 “We know.” They say.

 And they do. But I will keep saying it until I can no longer draw breath to do so because that’s what mothers do, rooting ourselves deep in the foundation of our love, trying, always, to do better, to give more and to find the right words to pass on our most important feelings and thoughts, the legacy of our love for them. They know because we continue to chant our mother song long after our mouths no longer open, long after our bodies lose the ability to hold them and long after our hearts have ceased to beat, we chant to them through the ether: Love, love, love, always and forever. You are my favorite part….

Home.

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 Jessica's mother surrounded her with art and creativity from the very beginning. Jessica began her personal journey with motherhood with the birth of her son. She was influenced by her natural and Waldorf-inspired upbringing and brought those elements into her own parenting techniques along with some of her own ideas and made a constant effort to follow her instincts. She lives in Maine where she unschools three of her four children who are now eighteen, sixteen, fourteen and twelve and makes art with them as often as possible. She is a fiber artist and author of the book The Gnome Project: One Woman's Wild and Woolly Adventure and she strives to say the words "Thank you" and "I love you" every single day.

You can follow Jessica and her lovely work on her website, on her Facebook page, or on Instagram as thegnomewoman.

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Jessica's favorites on her journey through motherhood:

Books

Grimm's fairy tales

Elsa Beskow books

Astrid Lindgren books

The Little Ghost by Otfried Preussler

The Never Ending Story by Michael Ende

Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke

The Inkheart Series by Cornelia Funke

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce

Toymaking with Children by Freya Jaffke

Games

Saboteur

Clue

Oh, Gnome You Don't

Frog Juice

Quiddler

Orchard (board game by Haba)

Contract Rummy

Online Shop

MamaKopp (on Etsy and Facebook)

Mother of 3.

mother3.jpg

  mother3 This picture tells the story of a baby who pooped on himself when his dad was taking a walk with him. Poppa looked into the diaper bag only to find a muslin blanket and an empty box of wipes. No change of clothes, no diapers, no baby wipes. Poppa wiped the baby with the clean part of the diaper, discarded the very soiled clothing, and wrapped him in the muslin blanket. Baby remained this way for about a half hour while poppa continued to walk him.

This picture also tells the story of a momma who now has 3 babies and can barely remember to brush her teeth. This morning she was going to, but then remembered she had already. Later in the afternoon, she recalled that it wasn't that morning that she had brushed but yesterday morning, so she then ran to the bathroom and finally brushed her teeth. She's a mom who's new to this breed of chaos. She is used to not doing everything her heart desires for herself by now- 3 children later- so when her husband offered to give her an hour to go to an outdoor community yoga class near their home, she jumped at the chance. Excited, sleep deprived, and rushing out the door as usual, she forgot to pack the diaper bag with fresh clothing and diapers and also forgot to replenish the baby wipes. Luckily her husband is very resourceful and patient! So, she tried to enjoy the yoga despite her tight body, the frustrated feelings welling up inside, the inability to quiet her mind and the judgments about her age and body in the midst of that young and uber-flexible crowd.

This baby is mine. And that mother is me. As I take 10 minutes to write this, I'm keeping the beat on a rocker with my foot so my little one will stay asleep so I can write this. For the next nap, I will put him in a sling and read my week's chapter in my textbook while I walk and sway. I spend the day fending off two bigger siblings because they like to play harmonica directly in baby's ear while he sleeps or kiss him profusely or come tell me who's fault what is- very loudly. There's always so. much. to. do. There is always something to clean. There is ALWAYS laundered clothes to put away as well as clothes to launder. And there is always love. Even though my scary mommy has emerged quite a bit in the middle of moments of stress when I bargain with God, "Please, just send me a clone. Or make me grow more arms (gives new meaning to the term onto-mom). Or send me Mary Poppins... I'll do anything!" But no clones, or arms, or nannies arrive. It's just us 5 here at home, trying to stay sane, and trying to figure out where the balance is for the day.

I no longer judge any mom for anything. Many dear friends have been bullied into C-sections. Lots of moms I know use formulas for feeding or supplementing. Pacifiers. Sleep training. Swings. Carter's clothing. Strollers. All things i said I'd never do and I've had to eat my words. If more pain had presented itself with the last baby's contractions, I may have caved at some point and asked for painkillers or a hospital. I've tried a pacifier this time around. I gently sleep trained one of my kids. I have had a swing with each child. I buy Carter's clothing KNOWING  there are some poor women making a penny an hour but it's so affordable. And while I love my carriers and use them daily, I also use a stroller. With how hard parenting is, I often wonder how there are so many people in this world. That thought makes me smile though. Knowing almost all moms have struggled and eventually figured out their balance and have made it happen for their family... that's uplifting. :) Most every mom shares a secret with each other. It makes me feel like part of a secret club of badassery and loneliness and everything in between.

My life is so different. The other day a couple of friends were over and I noticed my conversational skills were at their all-time low. I couldn't remember simple words and it made for very choppy and unintelligible sentences. They say you will probably never remember your third child's name and birth date and I'm starting to think that's true. I usually call my baby by my second's name. I don't really care what I look like when I leave the house right now. I just grab whatever is most at hand and throw it on. I pick up my hair in a pony tail and head on out. If it's not easy it's just not doable. Makes me feel frumpy often but I'd rather keep things easy than stress out. It's my choice. One that I'm finally completely comfortable with.

Manis, pedis, vacations, shaving, yoga, bellydance, romantic dinners, long peaceful strolls, sleep, dates... they're all on hold now. Sometimes I want to scream and punch something or someone and sometimes I drop an F-bomb or five, but one of the things that keeps me going (besides my husband and my little ones) is that it's my life. My life as I have created it. Chaotic as it is. This is me now.

Love. Over. Time.

The other night, I was woken up at 3am by a soft whisper in my ear, "Love. Over. Time." (source unknown) Three words.

I was wide awake and didn't feel like knitting, or watching something, or meditating or doing anything. I just wanted to lay in bed. So, I stared up at the white ceiling and tossed the words around, playing a kind of word boggle with them...

"Love, overtime."

"Love, over time, ..."

"Overtime love."

"Overlove time."

"Time over love."

"Love over time."

I wondered what the significance of the message was. Where was I supposed to go with these three words... what wisdom was I to extract? I drifted slowly back to sleep as the words still danced around in my mind. When I woke up in the morning, I wrote them down on a post it note and put it on one of the walls of our workspace.

"I'll just let you percolate until you're ready to let me know what you need me to know," I told the post it note.

Today as I folded and put away baby clothes in their drawers, the words came back to mind so strongly. A lot of the clothes I was putting away for our new baby used to belong to siblings. I was softly fingering tiny cotton socks, caressing and smelling muslin blankets, holding up and admiring teeny newborn outfits and I was suddenly in awe of the passage of time.

Time...

My kids have far outgrown these clothes. The wheel has taken many turns since they were born. They are different. I am different. And then I thought, "Love, over time, grows."

Love, over time, transmutes into something else.

Love, over time, returns to you.

Love, over time, is more freely given.

Love, over time, is enough.

Love, over time, creates space and freedom.

...and a tidal wave of other thoughts about love and raising children drowned me in barrels of emotion, while holding these tiny pieces of cloth that another little person is about fill and grow out of. And so on and so forth, in both directions. It just goes on and on forever, doesn't it?

I feel so small and so large right now.

2 minutes.

I went to take of #2's diaper to put him on the potty and there was a surprise poop in there. I really dislike suprise poops because they throw me off my momma game. It's not a planned poop diaper change where you have the new diaper ready with the wipes with baby on his back and the strategic toy ready to divert him from wanting to run away with his pants by his ankles. He was standing up, with a goopy piece of poop hanging from his butt and a dirty diaper by his ankles on the floor. I grabbed his wrist firmly so he wouldn't move while I leaned over to grap a baby wipe and in the second it took me to do that he had peed all over the floor. As I let out a deep sigh and a "gosh darnit!!!" he grabbed the potty that apparently my daughter had peed in and not flushed down the toilet and poured it on top of his pee puddle on the bathroom floor. Then my daughter comes in and starts taking off her clothes for the bath and drops all her clothing in the mixed puddle of his and her pee. She was complaining the water was too hot so she started whining and crying and my son was crying because he was naked and had poop on his butt and pee mix all over his feet. And my feet and socks were full of pee mix too. This all happened in the span of two minutes while getting ready for bath time in our family bathroom. All in a momma's day's work. I'm having quite a laugh about it now as I write but I'm pretty sure there was actually smoke and flames from the sides of my head as it was all going down.

Later as we played in their playroom, I watched them go about their serious work (which for children is, of course, play). They looked so beautiful and sweet. I dropped into a daydream while I sat there at their wooden toddler table about how they had both chosen me to be their mother. I thought that I could have been a mother to so many different possible beings. I could have easily gotten pregnant by one of a few serious boyfriends in my life- in a couple of cases I actually wanted to. But I can't picture their faces. I can't imagine having given birth to anyone but these two little souls.

At that moment, I felt like my life had an overwhelming and mysterious sense of purpose. Like I met my husband and we fell in love simply because my two children had a deep urge and longing to be born. It all felt like destiny. And I went as far back as I could with that idea... I pictured their longing and my longing mixed together to have brought my mom and dad together and my husband's as well and our grandparents and their parents, until I couldn't picture anyone anymore. I went so far back in my mind that I just reached a oneness. A void. Where everyone's longing lived and where pure potential was born. This was the way that my kids brought the eternal to me today. They do in some way or another every day. Today's way was sweet... an unexpected and dreamy meditation.

Sometimes it all feels worth those two minutes of crazy that come too often.

Toys.

A while back, my husband had this brilliant idea for a documentary- to take everything in our home that is MADE IN CHINA and replace it with things MADE IN THE USA. It had me thinking. So I started looking around at the things that were immediately around me-

Cell phone... China

earphones... China

headband... China

plastic toy car... China

Lifefactory glass sippy cup... USA

rainboots... China

toy ball... China

my clothing... China

Yikes!

Since then, we've made it a point to purchase toys, furniture, food, yarn, clothing and whatever else there are viable alternatives for that are made in the United States or other countries where slave labor is not the order of the day. Sure, it's more expensive, but a few more dollars doesn't bother me when it comes to something more ethical and responsible.

Especially toys. There have been so many cases of lead and other strange toxins found in the paints of toys that have come from China and other countries with cheap manufacturing and labor practices. I do admit we have purchased some plastic items like a Radio Flyer tricyle, some B toys that we liked for the kids and their toy bins but little else. Most things are natural fabric toys and naturally dyed.

Where does one find such toys?

There are quite a few internet sites that sell great wooden toys as well as crafts and art supplies made of natural materials. But recently I came across A Toy Garden, at the suggestion of a friend who marveled at the quality of their playsilks. Toys like these are known to be quite expensive because they are mostly handmade and mostly MADE IN THE USA. This site has a great variety of more affordable toys and other products. I purchased playsilks in several colors for my little ones, a handmade flannel and silk rainbow colored blanket and a teacup with a beautiful fairy design for my little girl. Everything came quickly and with a sweet little "thank you" note from the owner. I am a sucker for great customer service and when she sent me an email to update me about my shipping, I was officially hooked. We had a nice little exchange and then she offered to donate a 35 inch playsilk for a giveaway on my blog!!! Playsilks are awesome because they foster creativity and pull from the incredible imagination children possess. They can be used for dress up, to simulate weather, for peekaboo play, to wave around with music, and offer hours of open-ended play.

So, without further a due, it's my pleasure to announce the FIRST GIVEAWAY- of hopefully many- on my blog site!...

Just post a comment on this post and tell me what color playsilk you'd like to have. You can check out the colors on this page here. I'll put everyone's name in a bowl and pick a name out. Then lovely Sonya will send a playsilk to your home! You can comment until Monday night as I'll be picking and notifying the lucky winner Tuesday morning :)

Good Luck! And let's keep an eye out for what and where we buy. We vote with every dollar we spend. Let's support fair and as locally as possible!

And finally, here is a great resource for how to green up your toys.

Guilt and Babywearing.

... two things that seemingly have nothing to do with each other, right? I found out this week that this is not the case.

I recently committed to learning to carry little one #2 in a woven wrap. Woven wrap carrying is another level of wearing your baby- it takes real commitment to learn because it is very challenging and because there are 500 different ways to carry your baby in a wrap- each more labyrinthian than the next. The advice I have been given over and over is to do it once or twice a day for two weeks and you'll have figured it out.

It's like my Everest right now.

Two mornings ago, I almost chucked the wrap into the trash bin because after ten minutes of maneuvering around like a pretzel, discomfort, failed positioning and breaking out into a full-on sweat, I gave up and snapped my Ergo on in 3 seconds flat.

"So why not just wear the Ergo forever?" you might ask.

For one, my son has been in 24 month clothing for 3 months now and he's not even a year old yet. So, his Ergo days are numbered. But also, the wraps- once figured out- are so comfortable and can be worn so many different ways. Again... once figured out.

So far the easiest for me is the back carry. I lulled him to sleep on my back while walking him around the neighborhood the other night. It was yummy.

And then... it wasn't.

I started feeling huge pangs of mommy guilt. I was having the most lovely walk under the stars with my son, enjoying the balmy air and appreciating the peace and quiet. And I looked over to my husband who had little one #1 asleep on his back. I looked at her little sleeping cherub face- cheeks all smushed up against his back- and I wanted to cry.

My guilt was consuming me and I did the walk of shame back home to put the little ones in their bed. I sat down with my feelings and began to nervous knit (kinda like nervous eating but with less calories).

A montage of my daughter's babyhood flashed in my mind's eye and I dove deeper down into my shame spiral. From the moment I birthed her I was such a mess. If it wasn't breast issues it was depression or anxiety or severe self-doubt or crippling loneliness. I bumped her off to my husband countless times because I couldn't deal and I yelled and cried and felt hysterical more times than I can remember. I don't think I started to feel any semblance of normal until I was 9 months postpartum. Even then, it was only a slight trickle of light coming in through the cracks. So, to see myself able and happy to take my little one everywhere with me- since the very beginning- enough to commit to challenging babywrapping, it makes me feel sad. Like I jipped my first-born of a fun and happy first year. Momma guilt weighs the heaviest, I think. And mommas know how to lay it on themselves quite thick.

The only thing that helped me feel better was going back into our room and watching them sleep for a minute. No matter what has happened, I am a balanced and content momma now to both my little ones. It's a very human thing to have a hard time letting go of the past. That's okay too. A huge part of being a momma is learning patience, love and compassion to open your heart for enough room to bestow them unto yourself as well. To learn to be that compassionate mother to ourselves first so we can be the best one to our children and anyone else who needs our open arms and love.

Now that I'm done sharing, I'm off to You Tube to learn how to hip carry. That Poppins hip carry is NO JOKE... and it makes me feel like anyone BUT Mary Poppins!

Phases.

Phases. Of the moon; of emotions; of my life...

I know everything is ephemeral. It's the nature of life. But knowing this doesn't mean that I'm any less sensitive to all the changes.

Yesterday I was in front of the mirror before my shower and I was staring at the bags under my eyes while I massaged an essential oil version of Ben Gay on my sore back. I felt so OLD. I couldn't believe who was staring back at me in the mirror. I looked down at my clothes- breastmilk, boogers and some mashed up banana- and let out a deep sigh. "This will all be a memory one day," I thought to myself. But I still felt frumpy and ugly.

I remembered someone once said to me "Getting old requires a sense of humor. You may feel 21 inside and then you look in the mirror and ask yourself 'Who in the hell is THAT old fart?' " That made me laugh back then and still makes me laugh. It's not like I want to stay young.  I wouldn't want to end up a woman full of denial and Botox. Staying youthful- yes. Staying young- just not possible. Life just feels difficult and monotonous right now. Every day the same ins and outs through mental pathways I've traveled down a thousand times. Every day longing to read a book or write a song or finish a project or take a yoga class and it all gets tabled for another day in some foggy future.

I always wipe tears- my children's and mine- with my shirt. As well as food, boogers, and whatever else comes up. I don't care lately what I look like because I don't have much time to. And does it really matter? I suppose once in a while I do make the time to go on a date with my husband and do my hair and make up but does it make up for the rest of the time I'm in soggy pajamas or wrinkled clothes (seriously, does any mother of two little ones have time for an iron)?

This kid thing is no joke. It feels heavy and bigger than my capabilities right now. I know it's just a phase and soon I will feel something else but for now... still sighing deeply.

My baby turtle.

This is what my son looks like to me now that he's crawling...  

 

 

Sometimes it makes me sad and teary, especially when I'm trying to put him down for a nap or for bedtime and he just ups and crawls away. I feel like his time resting nestled in my arms all day has come to a close and the world has begun to open up immensely.

My favorite thing about babies is their beingness. That awesome reckless abandon they don't even know they have. They feel their feelings so beautifully and express them as such as well. They cry one minute, laugh the next, then vomit on themselves, then crack up, then kiss you, and then smack you in the face. I love it all.

And I'm even starting to learn to love the letting go. It used to make me sad. I think back to my existential crisis in college when I used to think the most depressing thing someone can do is be born because it became glaringly obvious then that the moment you're born you begin to die. I've asked both my children at one point or another, "Why? Why did you come back here?!?" Despite the truth of all that, I am starting to embrace this fact of life and enjoy the bittersweet feelings of how fast children grow and how quickly more greys are sprouting in my hair. We're not planning on any more babies, so seeing my little one crawling away from me with so much determination and purpose makes me sigh a deep sigh. There's relief, joy, and pride in that sigh but a definite heaviness to it as well.

Little baby turtles come out of their shell and fulfill the urge to GO. So they crawl out of the sand and go, go, GO until they reach the ocean. They don't know why they go, they just know they need to.

 

 

Gummi Bears.

A friend asked me a while back about my blog. She asked, "Do blogs always have to be uplifting, because sometimes I'm feeling angry and frustrated" or something to that effect and I found that so curious because I always thought my blog was very self-indulgent in the most ranty and selfish sort of way. It's nice that she found it uplifting. But I guess she and I suspect many of my readers have caught up with me at the tail end of things. Now that I'm creeping my way slowly out of the Laborinth, things feel better and calmer mostly. But not today. I don't want to be a mom today. Today, I would have loved to have been barefoot in Lollapalooza, dancing with my eyes closed, baking under the sun with an iced cold Guinness singing along to Pearl Jam. It would have been nice to have been on the beach in Tulum, breeze blowing through my hair and sand dancing between my toes. A drive through tulip fields in Holland blasting Radiohead would have been awesome.

Instead, I was nursing my teething baby. All day. And severely neglecting my toddler who currently has a cough in front of the electronic babysitter. Little one #2's gums are on fire right now so he's been very fussy, very restless and very upset all day. He popped on and off my boobs. all. freaking. day. No nap. No rest. Just crying, fussing, and nursing. Yes, it's all part of being a mother but sometimes I just don't have the patience for it. Today was one of those days.

By the time we got to Whole Foods at 9pm tonight, no one had had a bath, no one had had dinner and everyone was exhausted. And Whole Foods being Whole Foods, there was NOTHING to eat in prepared foods that didn't have soy or 800 gross disgusting things in it. I went to the chip aisle to get the ONE non-gmo, non-canola oil potato chip snack they have only to find- for the 5th week in a row- it was out of stock. Leave it to them to have stopped carrying one of the few decent not-so-junky junk foods they had available. As we shopped, I nibbled on some raspberries out of the box that my little one #1 was having. I had two boxes of Sea Snax. I crunched on a handful of blue tortilla chips. I snagged a stuffed grape leaf. And I washed it all down with raw coconut water. That was it. That was dinner. But that was gourmet compared to what my toddler had for dinner.

Gummi Bears.

Neither my husband nor I were going to get home and cook at 10pm. She was already ready for bed before we even left the house so we were going to have to find something there. I tried to give her a grape leaf. I tried to give her a couple of slices of organic cheese. I offered her a hard boiled egg. NOTHING. And then as we were paying, she hands me a pack of organic gummi bears and says, "please mami."

And I was tired. And I just didn't have any fight in me to make her eat something healthy or get home and cook even something simple like peas in coconut oil. "She had a few raspberries, they have antioxidants," I thought to myself.

So my toddler had gummi bears for dinner. My toddler that has a cough and could use some homemade chicken soup ate gummi bears for dinner.

We got home, brushed her teeth, put on her pj's (bath, what?) and at 11pm she finally went to bed. Little one #2 was asleep the moment his head hit the bed- thank goodness. He nursed for a minute and quickly fell asleep.

I am exhausted.

I just don't feel like being a mom today.

And now I'm texting my best friend to cancel our date tomorrow night because I'm tired down to my bones, have a full day ahead of me tomorrow and the last thing I feel like doing although I would love to spend some girl time out and about, cavorting around the Mile, is do my hair and get dressed up. What I'd love to do is cry. Maybe I'll do that now...

Now that I have two littles...

We have been through so many changes lately and are still in transitions at the moment. So, it wasn't a surprise when little one #1 asked me to nurse all of a sudden the other day. She had asked for it a few times during the day and I refused each time. I didn't give it any thought, I just automatically said "no" every time. Immediately upon each request, people's warnings began ringing in my ears:

"She won't ever let it go again."

"She'll think she can control you."

"You can't give kids everything they ask for."

"She's too old to nurse."

At night, she asked for it again but with a gentleness that I hadn't seen from her in a while since she entered her boisterous toddlerhood. She also seemed like she really needed it so, apprehensively, I cuddled in the covers with her and nursed her for the first time in 5 months.

I cried like a baby.

I missed our alone moments so much. I missed feeling I could do things with her without having my eye on my other baby. I missed doing things with her without the feeling that we have to hurry because little one #2 may have to nurse/sleep/check-in with momma. Our 3 person family grew to 4 and with that came changes to my relationship with her. And although I know things will slow down with little one #2 and they will entertain each other and both become more independent as time goes by, our dynamic changed permanently. I really missed it while we were nursing. She looked up at me with adorably tired doe eyes and began to squeeze my elbow skin like she always used to when she was a baby. I was in heaven having her so close because her current stage in life doesn't see many moments of stillness with momma.

I felt really happy to have felt how much she needed closeness with me because not only did I have such a yummy moment with her but I felt like I was still in tune with her and could still recognize her needs. Since she became a toddler I have felt somewhat of a disconnection and haven't known how to "get it back."  But I see I am still listening, I am still aware and I am still ready to give her what she needs to grow confidently and securely.

 

Growing children; growing momma by Amber Morabito

Recently as my children are growing and accomplishing big milestones in their lives, I find myself melancholy, nostalgic, and missing my babies!! The babies that I carried for ten months and loved every minute of the pregnancies, the babies that nursed and gazed into my eyes knowing that I was their provider and we connected on so many levels without words (just our gazes, hearts, and warm touches), my babies, that needed me and their Papa’ for everything. I miss this… I often ask my husband, “Do you miss our babies?” and his response is, that sometimes he does, but really enjoys them getting older. My husband’s response reminds me of a conversation I was a part of where a girlfriend of mine asked another mother we were standing with if she ever misses having her babies (her kids are 8 and 10) and this mom responded by saying, “No, I tend to live in the moment and enjoy them." My husband and this woman are at peace with growing children, but I really miss my babies! Although, what comforts my heart in these moments of missing my babies is watching them flourish into such competent children.

My oldest, even though he will not admit it, LOVES school, likes reading, enjoys his friends, and above all else still LOVES learning. Although I often hear about how hard things are at school and how frustrated he is about doing homework and all the things his teachers say he must do…he does these things and does them well. He also is very confident and excels physically in the activities he participates in. He is also a wonderful big brother. Finally, he has a kind and sensitive soul and wisdom beyond his years that I continue to understand as he ages. So when I miss my baby boy, I am comforted by the fact that as he grows, I get to know who he is and relish in what he is becoming…and know that what we did when he was a baby has helped him succeed as a competent, confident, healthy, growing child.

My youngest is technically still my baby, but don’t tell her that. She reminds us almost daily, “when I’m 4, I will be big and do….” . She will be 4 in June and it seems like yesterday she was born!! Time flies…but as with my son, as this little lady grows, we see who she is. She is ready to conquer the world and because she has such a light that shines so bright, you will want to conquer it with her! She is sweet, empathic, and loves so deeply those that she loves and all of her experiences. Such an innate awareness, appreciation, and genuineness her care free spirit already possesses.  People often cannot believe that she is only 3 years old and this has been the sentiment since she turned 3. This has a lot to do with her BIG brother and all the experiences she has been afforded as a second child, but also she was just “born with it”.

Recently, with both of my children, I have had moving experiences where I continue to evolve and learn from their strength, courage, and willingness to experience all that this world has to offer! It is an interesting existence for me as their mother, because where I know that I helped raise them so far into who they are, they came to us for a reason and are huge blessings and gifts that make me a better person! While I know I have moments where I really miss my babies, I am a grateful Mamma with a full heart as I watch my babies grow! While on this journey of life, I will remind myself to enjoy the moments, because in the end, the moments will make up my life as their mother and their lives growing into adulthood!

Cheers to watching our babies grow!!

"The highest reward for a person's work is not what they get for it, but what they become by it." - John Ruskin

 Amber Morabito is an educational consultant who recently moved from San Francisco, where she had been for 12 years. While residing there she had the pleasure and honor to build a very solid network of amazing people that shared her passion and commitment to children and their families. Despite the move, her vision is clear: to spend her life helping and educating others, conducting research, and advocating for young impressionable minds.

Her educational background is rooted in psychology and child development. She has a Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Psychology with a focus on children and families.  She has over 12 years experience teaching in early childhood education, 4years teaching adults at the college level, and 4 years consulting with educators and parents so that best child development and educational practices are possible. She is also a mother of 2 children and through all of her experiences educationally, professionally, and personally, continues to grow and learn daily as she strives to experience the world through the eyes of children and partner with others that strive to do the same.

Her email is consultamber@hotmail.com.

Little Flower.

Today I had a daydream that I was one of those little flowers that you see creeping out to meet the light from in between huge slabs of concrete. I thought of the efforts I make on a daily basis to creep out of my life of being "just a mother." Can you believe that I used to say, "I'm just a stay at home mom"?  I'm just raising two people in the world with ACTUAL integrity, honesty, health, awareness, and love for themselves and their planet. That's all. No biggie.

I don't need a prize for what I'm doing. I just need some time for myself in return. So, today I imagined myself as that little yellow flower, pushing forth from under the weight of the pavement only to emerge in a place where it doesn't really belong. Trying to keep momentum going in your personal/professional life while your two young children grow feels dissonant. I decided not to do it at all and be a stay at home mom but, as it turns out, every day I try to do something that helps me feel like ME again. Correction: every day, I try to do something that helps me sift through all the mother stuff and find who I am now. Luckily, a supportive partner equals time to read fascinating books, learn new things, take on new hobbies, develop hobbies I already love, and some time to myself every once in a while.

But like that little flower, I still feel the weight of the things around me. I know every day I do a big job. Some days I am great at it, other days I'm not at all. And the only thing I can hold on to is the most volatile element on earth: change. Which makes me feel kinda good in an odd way because I've come to learn that anything worthwhile in life is found inside a paradox. Within this paradox, I let go of more and more everyday and as I feel my babies growing out of my arms leaving them empty, more is given to me. More responsibility, more love, more heartbreak, more confusion, more everything. And more of nothing.

Maybe I'm just emotional because my little one #1 will be going to school very soon. And I know she is ready for it because a. she asks for school every day and b. I feel it intuitively. Those little wings my husband and I nurtured and knew would grow have begun to sprout and I feel the subtle ways which she doesn't need me anymore and the new ways in which she does. I haven't let myself cry about it until just now... so now I'm just some bumbling, sobbing mess of a mom trying to type through my tears. Trying to make some sense of myself and of motherhood and trying to stop everything long enough for me to get some ground under my feet and maybe a little bit of understanding.

Motherhood feels SO, SO enormous sometimes.

Easy EC!

My 4 month old is potty trained. No, that doesn't mean he can take himself to the bathroom. He recently only started holding his head up firmly on his own. But since he was born, we practiced EC with him and working together, we all finally got it. We know when he has to poop because his cues are very clear after a couple of months of close observation and we take him as soon as he expresses them. He doesn't like to poop in his diaper and for the last month, all we get are occasional sharts such as this one (too scatological?). He tells us EVERY time he has to poop and if we're not available right away he'll hold it until we are. It's so great! Which is veeeerrrryyyyy nice while you're cloth diapering so you don't have to deal with big poopy messes. :D

We tried with little one #1 but her cues weren't as clear. She went wherever and whenever and her cues remained a mystery (such a woman, hey? hee, hee). Our "wins" were more a result of luck than really knowing it was time for her to poop. We respected that she wasn't about it too much and didn't push it on her. But we still took her when we started to KNOW she needed to go by the clock the whole way through and I think it's why she was able to be potty trained in just one weekend at 2 years old. The pee training took two days of being al fresco at home. The poop took an entire month. But at that point she was only pooping once or twice a day so it wasn't too much of a mess.

Our diapers are so clean and stain-free! And I still love cloth diapering. I made amends with Bum Genius and actually bought a couple more of them seeing their superb absorbency. So, I'm still using them, Rumparooz and Blueberrys. It only gets easier once you start doing it and then eventually the storing, washing, etc become second nature.

I highly recommend EC and cloth diapers!

Still nursing.

Before I was a mom and even while raising my first alone (no siblings), I would say "when kids are old enough to ask to nurse they are too old to nurse!" because I thought that was weird. I thought it was weird because I was simply regurgitating things others would say and I was merely mimicking others feelings and awkwardness about something I knew nothing about. I had had no prior experiences and yet still spoke with utmost authority and certainty.

Well, guess what. My toddler is old enough to ask for it. And we're still nursing. And it's the opposite of weird. It still feels nice, nurturing for both of us, connecting and completely natural. I stopped for a bit so that I would not be overwhelmed by tandem nursing with a newborn (bc they're always on the boobies). But now, we went back to occasional nursing. And I love it.

If anyone wants to tell me she's too old, then don't you nurse my child. And 3 years old is "too old" for very few things... nursing NOT being one of them. She pinches the skin under my elbow while she drinks milk and looks me deeply in the eyes with a love so big it's beyond words. It's so soothing to us both (except when she feels it's too soon to stop and gives me the look that she's ready to go into an epic battle for the boob!) and after all the challenges we had when she was a tiny baby, every time my babies get momma's milk- every time- I am deeply grateful for being able to provide that kind of pure sustenance and for the sustenance that is provided to me from my blessed food and from the love of my husband to be able to pass it on to them.

Nursing is a blessing.