How I Feel

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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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

Mother of 3.

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  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.

 

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.

The mom gene.

Today I read something in a book that I found so interesting. It said that when we have feelings, physical sensations or emotions- any experience at all- our whole self responds and changes as our electromagnetic system and our RNA tells our DNA about what just happened. The messages travel through our energy systems which communicate infinitely.(*) So basically our DNA is always talking to the universe. Think about the implications of that! So while my DNA has known for three years that I became a mother, my mind had not yet received the memo fully. There were still unsettling feelings about it and some quietly constant unrest. Yesterday after finishing a deeply moving book, the resistances- big and small- came out of their caves to make themselves known. So I chanted over and over, "I am a mother" silently while taking deep breaths. Every time a resistance came up, I repeated it. "I am a mother." Over and over and over until each resistance had been met, acknowledged, understood and released. Surely, I will huff and puff next time I have to walk out of the house with a 30 lb diaper bag and clothes stained with milk and markers, but I suspect that and all the other resistances no longer have the hold they had on me. I am a mother and I always will be and this is no longer a condition or something to resolve or make sense of. "Mother" is who I am now. Whatever else I am, I am also always a mother. And so, I have fully opened my heart to meet my children where they are and will always hold their hand to wherever they are going. I look them in the eyes more and am more honest with my words and actions. I can love more and nurture more. I have more compassion and sensitivity for the limits of their respective ages and more wonder for the magic of their pristine joy and their precious innocence.

My mother genes have been fully activated.

 

 

(* "The Children of Now" by Meg Blackburn-Losey)

Messy motherhood. #nosleep

Talking to another momma tonight, it hit me (as it does again and again and again) that mommas are never truly ready for motherhood. Financially stable enough?... sure. Aware of their decision to have a baby... certainly. But ready for motherhood. Nope. No. Non. Niet. Nao. Nein. Just, no. Not ever. The vastness of it... the multi-layered nature of the whole vastness of it... it's just huge.

Add to that the fact that most of us are either working while doing it or trying to run a home and not run ourselves to the ground in the meantime and it just becomes a whole other thing.

And then add to that the fact that we are culturally conditioned to think things that are absolutely wrong about motherhood and then we have a mess on our hands and many situations that have led to depression, anxiety, abandoned children, and broken relationships.

When someone who is pregnant asks me about life as a mother, I say "Please hold on to the bar and keep your legs and arms inside the vehicle at all times." And if they're especially carefree as I was I say, "The moment you decide to have a child, just know that there is something like a ten ton truck coming at you at 100 mph and one day you will feel the impact. Whether it's while you're pregnant, when you are birthing or 2 years postpartum, you WILL feel it." Sorry, ladies. I am here to smash any and all ideas that motherhood is happy coos and smiles and cute, smooth powder-scented baby butts- like what it looks like in a Johnson and Johnson's advertisement. What I, admittedly, thought it was going to be. It could be- if you make poor decisions that are going to affect your child for the rest of his or her life. But mostly, motherhood is messy. Emotionally and physically messy. Messy floors, messy clothing, messy feelings... messy, messy, messy.

After my first child, I fantasized about being a tribeswoman. Everyday. So that I could a. be topless all day, b. have other women around me who could help me and keep me company so I wouldn't have to stare at the wall all day and c. live in some kind of hut or teepee with quick access to the outdoors and the elements for the benefit of myself and my family. I still do sometimes. Especially after the 55th time I've put all the books back on the bookshelf before 11am. And on the days when I am so bored and know somewhere deep inside that this way of existing is not natural for mothers and all I want to do is scream at the top of my lungs, "THERE HAS GOT TO BE ANOTHER WAYYYY!!!" There is, but I don't see it as a truly viable option. At least not right now, not the way the world is set up.

But, I digress.

The reason I began writing this post is to relay some valuable information I was given by a friend a few days ago when I asked her about what I could do about my toddler who still wakes up some nights. My friend is the principal of an incredible school in town. I value her opinions about childhood and parenting greatly and this- below- is what she sent me. I hope it helps any momma with the same questions I had or reminds mommas that they are doing right by their children. Society is not always fit to answer messy motherhood questions. It wants to wrap it up in a neat little box, even when things are very much not neat, not little, and don't fit in a box.

http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detsleepthrough.html

Kathy's Commentaries

Sleeping through the Night

by Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D.

Department of Anthropology, Texas A & M University

I am an Adjunct (semi-retired) Associate Professor of Anthropology and Nutrition at Texas A&M University, and I do research on infant/child feeding beliefs/practices both cross-culturally and from an evolutionary perspective, as well as research on children's health and growth. I know from first-hand experience that being a new parent is a difficult time of adjustment, especially when expectations don't match reality, especially when our culture has taught us that children should have certain needs/wants/behaviors and then our children don't seem to fit that mold. This problem of a mismatch between expectations and reality can be very difficult for new parents to accept and adjust to. Sometimes, some children can be encouraged/convinced/forced to fit the mold of cultural expectations, and they do fine. Othertimes, though they do eventually fit the mold, it is at the expense of their sense of who they are, their self-confidence, their view of the world as a safe and trusting place, sometimes, even, at the expense of their health or life. Probably nowhere do cultural expectations and the reality of children's needs conflict more than in the two areas of breastfeeding frequency and sleeping behaviors.

Human children are designed (whether you believe by millions of years of evolution, or by God, it doesn't matter) -- to nurse *very* frequently, based on the composition of the milk of the species, the fact that all higher primates (Primates are the zoological Order to which humans belong, higher primates include monkeys and apes) keep their offspring in the mother's arms or on her back for several years, the size of the young child's stomach, the rapidity with which breast milk is digested, the need for an almost constant source of nutrients to grow that huge brain (in humans, especially), and so on. By very frequently, I mean 3-4 times per hour, for a few minutes each time. The way in which some young infants are fed in our culture -- trying to get them to shift to a 3-4 hour schedule, with feedings of 15-20 minutes at a time, goes against our basic physiology. But humans are very adaptable, and some mothers will be able to make sufficient milk with this very infrequent stimulation and draining of the breasts, and some children will be able to adapt to large meals spaced far apart. Unfortunately, some mothers don't make enough milk with this little nursing, and some babies can't adjust, and so are fussy, cry a lot, seem to want to nurse "before it is time" and fail to grow and thrive. Of course, usually the mother's body is blamed -- "You can't make enough milk" -- rather than the culturally-imposed expectation that feeding every 3-4 hours should be sufficient, and the mother begins supplementing with formula, which leads to a steady spiral downward to complete weaning from the breast. Human children are also designed to have breast milk be a part of their diet for a minimum of 2.5 years, with many indicators pointing to 6-7 years as the true physiological duration of breastfeeding -- regardless of what your cultural beliefs may be. I can provide you with references to my research on this topic if you wish to read more.

The same is true of sleeping. Human children are designed to be sleeping with their parents. The sense of touch is the most important sense to primates, along with sight. Young primates are carried on their mother's body and sleep with her for years after birth, often until well after weaning. The expected pattern is for mother and child to sleep together, and for child to be able to nurse whenever they want during the night. Normal, healthy, breastfed and co-sleeping children do not sleep "through the night" (say 7-9 hours at a stretch) until they are 3-4 years old, and no longer need night nursing. I repeat -- this is NORMAL and HEALTHY. Dr. James McKenna's research on co-sleeping clearly shows the dangers of solitary sleeping in young infants, who slip into abnormal patterns of very deep sleep from which it is very difficult for them to rouse themselves when they experience an episode of apnea (stop breathing). When co-sleeping, the mother is monitoring the baby's sleep and breathing patterns, even though she herself is asleep. When the baby has an episode of apnea, she rouses the baby by her movements and touch. This is thought to be the primary mechanism by which co-sleeping protects children from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. In other words, many cases of SIDS in solitary sleeping children are thought to be due to them having learned to sleep for long stretches at a time at a very early age, so they find themselves in these deep troughs of sleep, then they may experience an episode of apnea, and no one is there to notice or rouse them from it, so they just never start breathing again. Co-sleeping also allows a mother to monitor the baby's temperature during the night, to be there if they spit up and start to choke, and just to provide the normal, safe environment that the baby/child has been designed to expect.

Is this convenient for parents? No!

Is this difficult for some new parents to adjust to? Yes!

No doubt about it, the gap between what our culture teaches us to expect of the sleep patterns of a young child (read them a story, tuck them in, turn out the light, and not see them again for 8 hours) and the reality of how children actually sleep if healthy and normal, yawns widely.

But the first steps to dealing with the fact that your young child doesn't sleep through the night, or doesn't want to sleep without you is to realize that:

  • (1) Not sleeping through the night until they are 3 or 4 years of age is normal and healthy behavior for human infants.
  • (2) Your children are not being difficult or manipulative, they are being normal and healthy, and behaving in ways that are appropriate for our species.

Once you understand these simple truths, it becomes much easier to deal with parenting your child at night. Once you give up the idea that you must have 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night, and view these nighttime interactions with your child as precious and fleeting, you get used to them very quickly.

I highly recommend Dr. Sears' book on Nighttime Parenting [available from the La Leche League International Catalogue]. Our children's early years represent the most important and influential time of their lives. It passes all too quickly. But meeting your child's needs during these first few years will pay off in many ways in the years to come.

Prepared August 25, 1997

Aaaaahhhhhhhhh.

It's that day. The kind of day I haven't gotten out of my pajamas yet and it's 1.29pm. Little one #1 hasn't brushed her teeth yet and neither have I, not because we're gross but because I have totally forgotten.

I couldn't find the vinegar 2 seconds after I took it out of the pantry because I had put it in the fridge.

There's a bowl full of barbecue sauce sitting on the floor. How it got there, I'm not so sure right now.

There's food all over the floor; broccoli bits all over my living room rug and toys everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

I sat down at my toddler's table to eat lunch with her. The amount of mustard I had put on her plate was not acceptable so she screamed at the top of her lungs at me and sobbed. I had had it. I yelled at her. "Shutuuuuuuuup. and. EAT!"

It was a slap in my own face. But I had to go for more. She wouldn't stop crying so I slammed her Melissa and Doug toolbox on the table. She jumped and cried even louder. My child was afraid of me. Shit.

I took a moment to myself in silence. I didn't even move. I felt like SUCH a heel. It's so easy to feel like a bad mother and just wallow in that so I just took a deep breath, looked past whatever it was I found irritating and cumbersome about her, me, and the situation and put my hand on her shoulder and gently asked her what she needed.

"I need mustard in a bowl, mommy."

As I fulfilled the very easy request, I thought about how much I absolutely don't want to be emotionally unavailable to her but sometimes am. It's very NOT okay for me to shut her out as I was shut out. I want her to feel she can make requests from me, cry with me, and tell me what she's feeling. She won't, if I keep this up.

I kneeled down to look into her eyes to apologize to her. "Sorry for yelling at you love. You were trying to show me how you felt about something and I did not react well. You can always, always tell me how you feel, even if I make mistakes about the way I react. I have feelings too."

I'm sure she didn't get all that, but she got the feeling behind it.

I am finding this toddler stage to be a lot about apologizing to my little one. I feel like I am making so many mistakes. It feels like I do more wrong than right although my husband says it's actually the other way around- so much so that when I do one thing off, I feel like it's the end of the world because I am so loving and respectful and present most of the time.

It's always nice to hear you are doing a good job. Especially from him, who's here and sees me and really knows if I am or not.

But still...

Now, if you will excuse me... I have to go pick up hard boiled egg off the floor, comb it out of my hair, maybe even comb my hair and get dressed, and delete the 300 pictures little one #1 just took on my iPhone during the time it took to write this post.

Sigh...

More about hair.

Recently, in an interview when asked why she let her daughter Willow shave her head, Jada Pinkett-Smith had this to say: "This subject is old but I have never answered it in its entirety. And even with this it will remain incomplete. The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don't belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power, or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit, and her mind are HER domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. It's also a statement that claims that even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother's deepest insecurities, hopes, and desires. Even little girls should not be a slave to the preconceived ideas of what a culture believes a little girl should be. More to come. Another day."

I cut my hair really short a year after my first baby was born. I looooove having long hair but always find one reason or another to chop it off. This particular chopping, however, was the shortest I had ever gone. Total pixie cut. It was very liberating as I felt I was detaching from the difficult challenges of the past year. But very soon after, I regretted it. I felt ugly and blah and, paired up with all the weight I had lost from breastfeeding, I felt unattractive. Then the growing out part... oy! I wonder if I don't like short hair because of societal programming or if I just truly prefer really long hair. Honestly, sometimes I can't tell what my soul truly wants because I feel so lost in marketing, advertising, and public opinions. Growing up with Victoria's Secret models, on Hollywood movies, and Seventeen magazine does something to a young girl. So, I applaud Jada Pinkett-Smith for her revolutionary mothering and for allowing her daughter to go with her own flow and find what her truths are.

In this vein, I also applaud Sesame Street for these two excellent songs, getting little girls started early in different ways than Barbie and Bratz dolls do:

 

The dancing in this one is awesome :) ...

 

And of course Miss India Arie, who has always been a beautiful example of loving oneself. Such beautiful words to this song:

 

I want to always show my girl and boy that they should never live to anyone's expectations but their own.

Chocolate.

I'm having my own chocolate festival here in my house today. Chocolate has been key in keeping me smiling today. When my toddler stubbed her toe and I was giving it a little rub, my newborn woke up to eat. But he woke up as I was intending to clean up the huge post-lunch mess under the table consisting of lunch ingredients, mushed banana bits and leftover blueberries from this morning. After that I was going to sweep up a bit right after I finished folding the clothes but not before I took a quick pit stop to the restroom because I had been holding it all morning. Not to mention having to put the pile of books on the floor back to their place on the bookshelves and washing the dishes in the sink. All this to barely keep up what my housekeeper so diligently comes to do for us because two kids are just a hurricane. So, I just decided to forego all of it and write.

Does all this sound familiar to you?

And now I'm leaking.

And baby just woke up again.

Thank goodness for Justin's chocolate hazelnut butter!

 

Motherhood, version 2.0

The other day I was in the bathroom looking at my new body. Admittedly, it certainly is not a wonderland anymore but it does tell stories- a surgery I had in my early twenties, my lower hanging breasts from nursing my first baby, their fullness from my current nursing, my shrinking belly/momma pouch that tells of two births, and my wider hips after birthing two babies.  My messy hair says, "I have no time to get brushed" and my slouchy shoulders indicate an exhaustion that I feel down to my bones.  The bags under my eyes let everyone know I wake up every two hours to prop myself up and nurse my hungry little one. I don't remember it all being this hard, but here it all is again. The hardest part of it for me is the emotional aspect of being in the postpartum period. The sudden tears and the deep emotions that go with it totally blindside me at times. I spontaneously burst into tears about anything and everything- from the Poochy doll I lost in the first grade that I used to love so much to the way an ex used to comment on my thin "chicken legs." The only person that can really get me out of that hole when I fall into it is my husband.  And he's back at work as of yesterday.  I've been wishing we lived in Finland (or was it another Scandinavian country?) since yesterday because they offer two years paternity leave.  Imagine that...

I often complain that this world seems backwards but never more than right after I've had a baby.  There is not enough support for a new mom.  There IS support, but I believe it's not enough.  For me, there is no such thing as "too much support." Tribes are virtually all gone. We don't live in real neighborhoods anymore. I have never known any neighbors in my entire life, much less gone over to borrow sugar or have a chat. When some former female neighbors found out I was having a home birth, they called the landlord concerned about what I was going to do with my placenta and what was going to happen if "blood dripped down the walls" into their units.  That's not very neighborly, is it? Especially when they could have knocked on my door and asked me directly, being just one or two doors away.

This time around is very much the same but also different.  There is the strong and constant desire to retire into my momma cave with my newborn but there is the Type A side of me that wants to pick up those chips off the floor before I sit down to nurse as well.  The picking up of the chips always ends up with folding laundry, vacuuming the rug and tossing more things in the wash.  There is ALWAYS something to do now.  There are not really times of napping wonderfulness like I had with little one #1.  However, the loneliness is definitely present again.  I have had to let go of a lot of things.  A lot of ideas I was determined to follow through with and goals that I was determined to reach have been erased or tabled.  Like what?  Well, the "no television" thing is gone and long forgotten.  It helps me.  It's only PBS shows and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  It's nothing inappropriate. But there was one point in my life where I considered all television inappropriate, even for me. And here we are now, three hours of tv a day later... whatever works and in whatever way I can survive until I get to close my eyes and rest for little packets of hours each night.

I cry and cry and cry, even about things I didn't even know still bothered me.  I cry because I'm happy.  I cry because I'm sad.  I cry because I wonder if life will ever feel relaxing or slow again.  I cry because I don't want any more crayola paint or marker stains on any more of my clothing.  I cry because my back hurts.  I cry because I miss yoga and dinners alone with a hot cup of tea and a fabulous travelogue as companions. I cry because I constantly wonder why on Earth these little souls decided to come back here and not some dreamy golden light-filled heavenly planet somewhere in a galaxy far, far away. I cry because I miss a life I don't even really remember anymore with vacations, passions and dreams that feel hazy, fuzzy and far away.

The only difference between the first postpartum and this one is that now I do believe other moms when they compassionately offer me a "this too shall pass."  It always does, I know that now.

Nevertheless... sigh.

Blessings.

I used to be really bothered by people who would say, "God bless you" to me or to/about little one #1. I always felt defensive about it- "who r u to bless me?"- and also thought, "what if someone doesnt believe in God?  Isn't this a bit presumptuous?" I heard it A LOT when little one #1 was born. Yesterday as I was watching her slide down the big slide at the park, the momma next to me said, "She's beautiful, God bless her.  And God bless your little new one."  It was at that very moment I realized it no longer bothered me.  I actually much appreciated it.  I smiled and thanked her because I felt very warmed by the sentiment.  If there is something we all need in this crazy place, it is blessings- from God, from each other, from within ourselves.  To hear a stranger wish us blessings no longer feels annoying.  Now- with two small children- it feels very special and significant.

At bedtime, with my children at either side of me, I couldn't stop thinking "Why did you come back?"  Especially about my newborn who can't yet control his movements, has no words for his emotions, and is having his first experience of being sick with a cold in his tiny little body.  I sobbed and felt helpless.  I thought, "Why did you come to me?...  What do I know about anything?  Most days this universe feels too big for me to understand.  What can I teach you?  Why me?"  And within all that wondering and confusion, a sense of honor and reverence overwhelmed me and I began to sob even more.  For whatever reason, they did choose me. They chose our home. They chose to come and be who they are here. Now.

I began to imagine everything they have seen on their soul journeys so far.  I thought of what friends, teachers, siblings, lovers they have had.  And I hoped that their former mothers were good to them and that they were at ease knowing they had come to a loving and peaceful home this time. I thought of all the things they've had to see, endure, experience, release. It made me want to just lie there with them and hold them tightly against my bosom forever.  But alas, life is mostly about change and letting go and whether or not we face that with grace and understanding or constantly resist them with waving fists and complaints.

Why would they come back to this place of constant change and letting go... to this rollercoaster of heartbreak and bliss?  Again, I am taken back to that poem by Tagore:

This dear little naked mendicant pretends to be utterly 
helpless, so that he may beg for mother's wealth of love.
 Baby was so free from every tie in the land of the tiny 
crescent moon. 
It was not for nothing he gave up his freedom. 
He knows that there is room for endless joy in mother's little
 corner of a heart, and it is sweeter far than liberty to be caught
 and pressed in her dear arms.


I feel blessed and so many other things at the same time right now.  My heart feels like it could burst. I feel so jumbled up and raw...