The monkey ate the orange.

There are some really comical things about motherhood. This is one of them... So, Christmas Eve I had the great fortune of having some time to (wait for it) BLOW DRY MY HAIR!!! So I took the opportunity and ran with it. Of course, I didn't close the door to the bathroom while doing it because closing the bathroom door and motherhood are completely incongruous.

I wanted to be at dinner at my mom and dad's soon because little one #2 has set a firm 7pm curfew for us. So I had my husband give little one #1 a shower with him in our other bathroom. He was going to bathe her, get her dressed, and be ready when I was done.

Riiiiiiiiiiight.

As I'm blow drying my hair, my little naked toddler comes in and asks, "Mommy... you drying you hair?"

"Yes, mimi."

"Okay!" and runs off somewhere to do something other than get dressed, I suspect.

Five minutes later she comes in- still naked- eating a banana. Looks around, takes a glob of body lotion with her in the other hand and off she goes.

Five minutes later she runs across the bathroom doorway towards our closet- still naked- screaming something random like "The monkey ate the orange! The monkey ate the orange!"

On her way back from the closet she runs across again waving one of my bras around like a flag and yelling, "Whhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

Five minutes later she comes into the bathroom- still naked- after having rummaged through my underwear drawer with a pile of my underwear in her arms. She looks up at me, smiles, and off she goes again.

Until finally, she comes in dressed and asks for lipstick by puffing out her lips as if asking for a kiss.

I'm done with my hair at this point, so I fulfilled her request. I put red on her adorable poufy lips and then she gives me a big smooch to thank me. And then I burst with gratitude for having children.

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

Strong-willed mom seeking help with strong-willed toddler!

I have asked so many for advice about this topic, I may as well put out a personal ad that reads like this. I usually enjoy that my daughter is similar to me in this way. Hard-headed like her momma! What I like the most about it is that I know that she will always stand in her truth and this makes me feel very happy (for her and for me!)

A wonderful friend send me this information written by Dr. Laura Markham regarding raising strong-willed children and I want to share it with all of you because it was very helpful. The points are all great reminders and I printed it out and posted it up on my board so I can read it whenever I need that deep breath and mommy tune-up...

Strong willed children can be a challenge to parent when they’re young, but if sensitively parented, they become terrific teens and young adults.  Self-motivated and inner-directed, they go after what they want and are almost impervious to peer pressure.  As long as parents resist the impulse to "break their will," strong-willed kids often become leaders.  

What exactly is a strong-willed, or spirited, child? They are people of integrity who aren’t easily swayed from their own viewpoints.  They want desperately to be right, and sometimes will put that desire above everything else. When their heart is set on something, their brains seem to have a hard time switching gears.  They have big, passionate feelings and live at full throttle. Often, these kids are prone to power-struggles with their parents.  However, it takes two to have a power struggle.  You don't have to attend every argument to which you're invited!  If you can take a deep breath when your buttons get pushed, and remind yourself that you can let your child save face and still get what you want, you can learn to sidestep those power struggles.  Research shows that parents who pay attention can avoid power struggles, even with strong-willed kids, by empathizing as they set limits, giving choices, and clearly offering respect.  Adopting a policy of looking for win/win solutions rather than just laying down the law keeps strong-willed children from becoming explosive and teaches them essential skills of negotiation and compromise. Strong-willed kids feel their integrity is compromised if they're forced to submit to a parent's will.  And, really, you don't WANT to raise an obedient child.  Of course you want your child to do what you say.  But not because he is obedient, meaning he always does what someone bigger tells him.  No, you want him to do what you say because he trusts YOU, because you are the parent and have his best interests at heart.  You want to raise a child who has self-discipline, takes responsibility, and is considerate -- and most important, has the discernment to figure out when to trust and be influenced by someone else.  Breaking a child's will leaves him open to the influence of others that often will not serve him.  What's more, it's a betrayal of the spiritual contract we make as parents to nurture our child's unique gifts. That said, strong-willed kids can be a handful -- high energy, challenging, persistent.  How do we protect those fabulous qualities and encourage their cooperation?

Ten Tips for Positive Parenting Your Strong-Willed, Spirited Child:

1. Avoid power struggles by using routines and rules.  That way, you aren't bossing them around, it’s just that “The rule is we use the potty after every meal and snack,” or “The schedule is that lights-out is at 8pm.  If you hurry, we’ll have time for two books,” or "In our house, we finish homework before computer, TV, or telephone time."  The parent stops being the bad guy.



2.  Your strong-willed child wants mastery more than anything.  Let her take charge of as many of her own activities as possible.  Don’t nag at her to brush her teeth, ask “What else do you need to do before we leave?”   If she looks blank, tick off the short list: “Every morning we eat, brush teeth, use the toilet, and pack the backpack.  I saw you pack your backpack, great job!  Now, what do you still need to do before we leave?”  Kids who feel more independent and in charge of themselves will have less need to rebel and be oppositional. Not to mention they take responsibility early.



3.  Give your strong-willed child choices.  If you give orders, he will almost certainly bristle.  If you offer a choice, he feels like the master of his own destiny.  Of course, only offer choices you can live with and don’t let yourself get resentful by handing away your power.  If going to the store is non-negotiable and he wants to keep playing, an appropriate choice is:  “Do you want to leave now or in ten minutes?”



4. Give her authority over her own body. “I hear that you don’t want to wear your jacket today.  I think it is cold and I am definitely wearing a jacket.  Of course, you are in charge of your own body, as long as you stay safe and healthy, so you get to decide whether to wear a jacket.  But I’m afraid that you will be cold once we are outside, and I won’t want to come back to the house.  How about I put your jacket in the backpack, and then we’ll have it if you change your mind?”  She’s not going to get pneumonia, unless you push her into it by acting like you’ve won if she asks for the jacket.  And once she won’t lose face by wearing her jacket, she’ll be begging for it once she gets cold.  It’s just hard for her to imagine feeling cold when she’s so warm right now in the house, and a jacket seems like such a hassle. She's sure she's right -- her own body is telling her so -- so naturally she resists you.  You don't want to undermine that self-confidence, just teach her that there's no shame in letting new information change your mind.



5. Don't push him into opposing you.  If you take a hard and fast position, you can easily push your child into defying you, just to prove a point.  You'll know when it's a power struggle and you're invested in winning.  Just stop, take a breath, and remind yourself that winning a battle with your child always sets you up to lose what’s most important: the relationship.  When in doubt say "Ok, you can decide this for yourself."  If he can't, then say what part of it he can decide, or find another way for him to meet his need for autonomy without compromising his health or safety.

6. Side step power struggles by letting your child save face.  You don’t have to prove you’re right. You can, and should, set reasonable expectations and enforce them.  But under no circumstances should you try to break your child’s will or force him to acquiesce to your views.  He has to do what you want, but he's allowed to have his own opinions and feelings about it.

7.  Listen to her. You, as the adult, might reasonably presume you know best.  But your strong-willed child has a strong will partly as a result of her integrity. She has a viewpoint that is making her hold fast to her position, and she is trying to protect something that seems important to her. Only by listening calmly to her and reflecting her words will you come to understand what’s making her oppose you.  A non-judgmental  “I hear that you don’t want to take a bath.  Can you tell me more about why?” might just elicit the information that she’s afraid she’ll go down the drain, like Alice in the song. It may not seem like a good reason to you, but she has a reason.  And you won’t find it out if you get into a clash and order her into the tub.

8.  See it from his point of view.  For instance, he may be angry because you promised to wash his superman cape and then forgot.  To you, he is being stubborn.  To him, he is justifiably upset, and you are being hypocritical, because he is not allowed to break his promises to you.  How do you clear this up and move on?  You apologize profusely for breaking your promise, you reassure him that you try very hard to keep your promises, and you go, together, to wash the cape.  You might even teach him how to wash his own clothes! Just consider how would you want to be treated, and treat him accordingly.



9. Discipline through the relationship, never through punishment. Kids don’t learn when they’re in the middle of a fight.  Like all of us, that’s when adrenaline is pumping and learning shuts off.  Kids behave because they want to please us.  The more you fight with and punish your child, the more you undermine her desire to please you.

10. Offer him respect and empathy. Most strong-willed children are fighting for respect.   If you offer it to them, they don’t need to fight to protect their position.  And, like the rest of us, it helps a lot if they feel understood.  If you see his point of view and think he's wrong -- for instance, he wants to wear the superman cape to synagogue and you think that's inappropriate -- you can still offer him empathy and meet him part way while you set the limit. "You love this cape and wish you could wear it, don't you?  But when we go to Temple we dress up, and we can't wear the cape.  I know you'll miss wearing it.  How about we take it with us so you can wear it on our way home?"

 Does this sound like Permissive Parenting?  It isn't. Here's why Permissive Parenting sabotages your child.

 Need more ideas about How to put Positive Parenting to work with your Strong-Willed Child?

Link: http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/positive-discipline/Parenting-Strong-Willed-Child

3 peeps bake a cake.

One of my toddler's favorite books is a hand me down from her cousins' old library called "Eight Animals Bake a Cake" by Susan Middleton Elya. It's a book in both Spanish and English that talks about each ingredient in a  cake and how a different animal brings each ingredient to a baking party at one of their houses. They all make it together and when they bring it out of the oven, it falls on the floor but they save it and end up making a pineapple upside down cake. It's a really fun kid's book and my little one LOVES to read it- usually three times in a row. In the back of the book is an actual recipe for pineapple upside down cake. My sister said she made it with the kids and that it was delicious. I had seen it a thousand times but it had never occurred to me to make it until she said she had and enjoyed it.

This morning we woke up and got to work. My little one was so proud stirring the ingredients together with her spoon. It's a great cake to make with kids as it's a little to no mess bake.

Here is the scrumptious result of our work and the recipe below.

Enjoy!

Topping: (to go in the bottom of the pan)

3-7 fresh organic pineapple rings

3-7 cherries

pecan halves (optional)

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup packed organic brown sugar or (1/4 organic raw honey)

Batter:

1 cup Pamela's gluten-free pancake mix

1/2 cup organic raw honey

1 tsp baking powder

2/3 cup grass-fed milk

1/3 cup butter (or coconut oil or ghee)

1 pasture-raised egg

1 tsp vanilla powder

Directions:

- Preheat oven to 350 deg

- arrange the pineapple rings on the bottom of your baking dish. Put one cherry in the center of each ring. (Optional) Place the pecans around the edges of the rings.

- melt 1/4 cup butter; stir in the brown sugar or honey; pour the mixture over the pineapple rings on the baking dish. Set it aside.

- In a medium bowl, mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, milk, 1/3 cup butter, egg, and vanilla. Beat for three minutes with a mixer. Pour the mixture over the pineapple in the baking dish.

- bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Let the cake cool. Flip entire cake over onto another serving platter or cut cake into pieces and flip them onto serving plates.

Yum!!!

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.

Still cloth diapering!

I am happy to announce that I am still cloth diapering! The honeymoon period has passed and it's still effortless. The only downsides I can honestly report on really are the frequent washes (every two days) and carrying a wet bag with me (I already have a big diaper bag for the two kiddos), but besides that it's totally easy. I did return a few of the Bum Geniuses to order other cloth diapers and test out which ones I liked the most. I ordered Swaddlebees, Rumparooz, Blueberrys, Comfy Rumps and Kawaii Diapers and although they are all similar and work great, I have to say that the one sized Rumparooz are the best. They have a double gusset (which means one on the inside and one on the outermost side of the diaper), they are very soft, they come with an insert and a soaker, and they have great colors and designs too!

I stopped using gDiapers because I remember the medium stage with my first little one- it was very messy. For me, they work great at the size small and large stages. The medium stage is VERY poopy and is usually when the blowouts start to happen and gDiapers weren't capable of keeping it all in. I always had a leak happen and stains on baby's clothes. Other than the medium stage, they are a GREAT option. The reason I opted out of them for this stage and for the rest of little one #2's diapering is because since I have a full load of cloths now that are all one sized, I don't need to buy any more diapers- they will work until little one #2 is out of diapers. :) (that's the other downfall for the g's... you have to buy diapers, plastic liners and cloth inserts for each stage and that can get tedious and pricey)

All in all, I am REALLY happy I started to cloth diaper. I do have to run my washing machine and dryer more often, but knowing I'm not leaving more disposables to just sit around for hundreds of years out there makes me feel better. AND baby is completely rash free! :)

If I ever thought...

If I ever thought life was about anything other than change, I don't anymore. I have children now (plural!) and I see them become different with every new sunrise. New faces, new words, new thoughts, new discoveries. Every day is full of change. Which in many ways makes me always hopeful for the future when thinking things are always growing and evolving but also always makes me feel as if things are just out of reach or slipping away somehow.

I feel the resistance to full surrender into motherhood still. I get lost in the LABORinth and  sometimes find myself wishing I would have never taken that first step into it. Especially now- facing toddlerhood with my first little one. She's having a time of it, as am I. She's a good kid (are there really any BAD kids?)- very sweet, loving, funny, charming and fun. But I feel the limitations her speech and her surroundings impose on her and the frustration they cause as well. I get frustrated too. Much like me, she shuts down and withdraws, unsure of what to do about things. I see that and wonder if I am recycling my past into our future. Am I a good mother? (that's kind of a rhetorical question). Am I the kind of mother my mom was to me or am I able to really step beyond my limits and go further? Am I loving enough? Am I caring enough? Am I attentive enough? Am I wise enough? Am I strong enough? Am I... am I enough?

Every devoted mother will tell you motherhood is exhausting. What most don't understand is that the exhaustion is about more than sleepless nights. It's about constant doubting and second-guessing. Worrying. Fear. Heartbreak. Tug of war. Screaming at the top of your lungs and into the deepest caves of your soul. Crying. Wondering. And change. Always change.

I always ask myself "can I do this?" but that is kind of irrelevant because I am doing it. I think that is something so beautiful about motherhood. It is a question and an answer all in one. A beautiful blessing and an unfathomable curse.

Sigh...

Why believe in Santa Claus?

I asked myself this question for the first time on my little #1's first Christmas. We remembered that when we found out Santa wasn't real it was devastating for us and decided to avoid that altogether. Plus, the waste and materialism it can turn into isn't what we are about either. We put up a little tree, lights and a few decorations and spend a really nice night together but that's as far as we have taken it. Recently, after finally coming up for air after little #1's birth, I started remembering the importance of believing in the magical and the unseen. So I started questioning our decision to have Santa skip over our home. I asked a friend who is very devoted to the Waldorf way who has an excellent blog about everything Waldorf. I thought her response was so well put and beautiful so I want to share it here...

Me: Shorty after we both read your post, we had a conversation about the Sugar Sprite. We were both affected by the loss of Santa Clause when we realized that he wasn’t real so we resolved a long time ago to not do that to our kids. I love the idea of the Sugar Sprite and think is beautiful and useful as well but where would you say the line between introducing magical things and ideas and lying to our children is? It’s something I haven’t figured out for myself yet…

Patricia: What you question is a tough conversation because today more and more individuals look and want only the physical truth - but in reality there are many perspectives to this topic.

If one were to look at this in a more Socratic method - you would begin to see there are multiple layers of reality and that some of the most ephemeral to adults are the nearest to children and are, in fact, the most nurturing to them.

For instance if you celebrate Christmas - as we adults can easily see and understand, that there is no little fat man in a red suit called Santa Claus and he does not have a team of reindeer that can fly.  But, as adults we can also see, and through our feeling life, experience evidence everywhere that this is a spirit of kindness, of generosity and warmth toward mankind - this feeling that is experienced is a true tangible role among people at this time of year.  In a child's world, calling that spirit Santa Claus helps them relate to it personally.  Later, when they ask out of themselves somewhere between 2nd and 5th grade (usually) - whether Santa really 'exists', the first answer a parent should give is the one above - if, and only if, the child persists to point out the problems with that answer or questions Santa's existence, then a loving and caring way, the parent can move into the 'Spirit of Christmas that we all carry within us and call Santa' sort of answer.  Doing this allows the child to continue to have faith in adults and the world in general.

Volunteering information that pertains only to physical reality makes children nervous and insecure, because it is at variance with their own experience.

I hope that makes a bit of sense and I was thrilled to read that you and John sat down to have this conversation - how refreshing.  It is up to adults to really imbue the soul of each child in our care - the soul needs to be awakened into a warmth - not just filled with coldness, harsh reality and physical facts.

This really helped me remember there is always more ways to look at things. So this year we will introduce Santa Claus in our own special Schott Clan way!

 

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!

 

About cloth diapering.

WHY on earth did I think this was so hard? I often find myself asking why people can't change and my conclusion is always "people are afraid to step out of their comfort zones."

So was the case for me and cloth diapers.  I did gDiapers with little one #1, but never used the cloth.  I refused to get into the science of washing cloth inserts (which soap? what temperature? where do I store them? etc) so I just used the biodegradable disposable liners.  It was really easy and fool proof.  I was determined to try cloth with our new baby and now that it's been a couple of weeks, I have to say I am SO happy we did.

For one, he's a major pooper.  So not only are we saving money on diapers, we're not filling the landfills with tons of diapers that will hang out there for who knows how long really.  The only thing I will say is that I'm not crazy about how much water we are using with the washing.  And I wash a load of diapers every day or every other day.  Consume water or create more pollution. Hmm... I'd opt for neither but I'm not about to exclusively EC my new baby.  It's not that I'm not able but I certainly choose not to.  I think with how much he eliminates, it would be messy, stressful and time consuming.  So, cloth diapers it is.

I am so impressed with myself because I never thought I could do it.  I thought there was too much to it.  But here is what I do:

- I take a smaller sized wet bag with me for leaving the house and I have one big hanging one next to my washer/dryer (make sure they are washable and tumble dry-able).  Both of my wet bags are from Planet Wise and I have an extra emergency small one from Bummis.

- I just throw diaper and liner in together into the wet bag when I change the baby and zip it up (odors don't come out of the bag thankfully).

- At the end of the day (or end of second day) when the bag is full, I use a glove to pull all the diapers out into the washer, turn the wet bag inside out so it gets all clean and then start the wash.  For every load I use 5 soap nuts (I also hear a small amount of Biokleen or Rock'n Green work great too) and wash once on COLD and then do a HOT rinse to disinfect.

... and that's it!  :)  So easy. So, honestly, anyone can do it.

Here are some tips I've learned from some experience and from other mommas:

- if your diapers get really stained or start to have odor, strip them with Dawn liquid soap in  a hot cycle (or two).

- after you've unsnapped/unhooked/unvelcroed the diaper, leave the diaper or liner on the baby until you;re ready to slip the next diaper on (ESP if you have a boy!)

- your daily wash could also be a COLD rinse then a HOT wash.  I do the COLD wash and HOT rinse bc with gDiapers, I wash the plastic liners and diaper along with the inserts.  The liners and diapers should avoid hot water washes.  I use Bum Genius too and they shouldn't do hot either- warm at most.

- when prepping for first time wear, wash poly liners/separate from natural fibers.  Polys only need one hot cycle.  Natural fibers like cotton or hemp need 3-7 hot cycles to prep to make them really thirsty. After prep washing, you can wash poly liners and natural fiber liners together.

There are also a lot of different ways to combine your diapering.  If you aren't committed to using cloth diapers exclusively, you can use cloth at home and disposable for traveling.  Or you can use cloth during the day and disposable at night (I use disposables at night because I don't want me or my baby to wake up for every peepee and have to change it- that makes for very unnecessarily long nights... in my opinion).  Either way, it's a lot less of a mess in our landfills to opt for cloth diapers even just part time.

I use gDiapers and Bum Genius.  I just happened to like those the best, but there are a lot of great cloth diapers out there that make things easy and cost effective too for that added bonus :)  If you have any questions, feel free to post.  Cotton Babies is a great resource for cloth diapering accessories and answers, too.

Happy diapering to all you mommas!

 

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...

I seem to have lost my super cape.

My house is full of molding clay.  Like... it's EVERYWHERE.  I can't keep a clean house longer than an hour. I do laundry every day now.  Every day.  I once asked a mom friend about laundry and cloth diapering before I had little one #1 and she said "I do laundry every other day or every day."  I remember thinking, "I am NEVER going to do that."  Never was closer than I thought.

My favorite tee shirt is full of dried milk.  And I still haven't changed.

I went to the park this morning with the two kiddos for the time today and it went fairly well but my back hurts so much from it and I had to ask another mom for help to get both kids in the car.  And I had to stay longer than I wanted to because little one #1 refused to get up off a friend's buzzy car and I had no hands to pick her up with to take her to the car.

I left the house without brushing my hair (but did somehow manage to brush my teeth... hooray!)

When I was pulling up to my house, I looked to the backseat and saw both little ones peacefully asleep in their chairs.  I don't mind staying in the car for as long as I need to for them to nap but today it was a problem because I really had to go to the bathroom and had no stroller in the trunk to help me carry my 30 lb. toddler home while loaded with a heavy diaper bag and an infant car seat with my infant in it.  I waited for an hour and when I couldn't wait any more, I woke up little one #1, grabbed #2 out of his chair with lightning speed and ran upstairs in just enough time to make it without any accidents.  And since little one #2 is in arms, I am writing this in my underwear because I didn't have any hands to pull my shorts back up.

I got peed on 3 times today by little one #2.  He's a boy.  p.s....Peepee Teepees don't work.

I went to see my husband for lunch at our restaurant and he was in the middle of a rush and a photo shoot.  So when little one #1 was tugging at his pants and not letting him talk he said to me, "Figure out what to do with her because I'm in the middle of a lot right now."  I understood, but it still sucked.

The routine and the familiarity I had reached for little one #1 and I is gone.  I had gotten as far as starting to do some preschool homeschooling with her a bit- lots of reading, art, crafts, parks, playdates, etc but now that's all gone now and super mom went with it.

I feel completely defeated and, not to mention, very tired.  I'm sure I'll get the hang of it but today, two feels really REALLY hard.

Sent to me by a wonderful educator friend.

Are You a Clean Mirror for Your Children?
By Annie Burnside, M.Ed.

There is a missing piece (PEACE) in our world today that few desire to look at head-on. It is not a religious piece, an educational piece, a political piece, an economic piece or a healthcare piece. It is a spiritual piece, and the acknowledgement and subsequent activation of that piece begins in the home. As parents, few of us understand who we really are as intuitive, creative, powerful, spiritual beings, and therefore, do not reflect the truth of our magnificent identity back to our children. In other words, despite well-meaning and loving intentions, instead of children observing, and more importantly, feeling wholeness, authenticity, self-love, truth, transparency and well-being reflected back to them from parents, they often see a diminished version of what is possible for the parent, and therefore, a diminished version of what is possible for them.

The most important step in elevating the reality of any family is the parents consciously moving down a path of self-realization to heal old wounds, uncover hidden beliefs, release denied emotions, and allow greater joy so that they can become a clear mirror for their children. As parents begin to become more comfortable within their own skin and follow the inner linings of their own heart more courageously, they simultaneously give their children permission to do the same. There is no greater gift that parents can offer their children. A deeper intimacy with our own soul - the largest perspective of who we are - will change our world beyond the current more surface band-aids that we continually attempt to reapply in all corners of society, often with disappointing results. It is up to parents to feel a greater responsibility to model soul intimacy, as well as encourage the same in their children. This is front-end work rather than back-end that will make a huge difference in the level of dysfunction, anxiety, stress, and despair found in so many families today.

The call right now is for parents from all religious, economic and cultural backgrounds to begin to consciously integrate a new perspective - a universal SOUL perspective - into their beloved family while simultaneously raising consciousness in our world. Below are ten suggestions for parents to consider as they seek to offer their children the fruits of their own spiritual journey.

Utilize everyday life such as friendships, nature, mealtimes, music, movies, and much more as the perfect curriculum and forum to teach your children powerful, universal principles such as connectedness, self-love, presence, and forgiveness.

Teach your children to allow multiple perspectives in all life situations and relationships by flipping challenges into positive, learning opportunities.

Train your children to be more conscious of thoughts, words, deeds, priorities, beliefs and choices so that they can assume greater responsibility for the creation of their own reality.

Encourage compassion, empathy and gratitude in your children on a daily basis by making them the most-used words in your home.

Turn the JOY in family life way up by singing, dancing, smiling, humming, laughing, and relaxing rigid perspectives as often as possible through openness and gratitude.

Model authenticity through speaking and living your truth thereby giving your children permission to do the same

Show your spirit daily so that your children can witness multiple aspects of you, and in turn, see multiple aspects in themselves.

Teach your children that they are intuitive, creative, eternal spiritual beings - much larger than simply their physical form - and filled with infinite possibility and the capacity for direct divine connection.

Assist your children in understanding that an appreciation for life in the present moment, coupled with enthusiasm for their future, plants the necessary seeds for manifesting their true heart's desires.

Provide the space and opportunity for your children to focus on their interior world as much as the exterior world, allowing greater intimacy with the voice of their own soul to feel what resonates as truth for them.

Baby's Way.

Every day I read this poem that my wonderful, incredible, amazing friend Laura brought to read at my Blessingway (which was written by Rabindranath Tagore which is totally amazing because she had no idea I absolutely adore him and his work).  And every day since my new little peaceful warrior was born it soothes me so much and makes me cry tears of joy and nostalgia... I'm deep in the emotionally raw postpartum phase so everything feels immense. Baby's Way If baby only wanted to, he could fly up to heaven this moment.
 It is not for nothing that he does not leave us. 
He loves to rest his head on mother's bosom, and cannot ever
bear to lose sight of her.
 Baby know all manner of wise words, though few on earth can
understand their meaning.
 It is not for nothing that he never wants to speak. 
The one thing he wants is to learn mother's words from
 mother's lips. That is why he looks so innocent.
 Baby had a heap of gold and pearls, yet he came like a beggar
 on to this earth.
I t is not for nothing he came in such a disguise.
 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. 
Baby never knew how to cry. He dwelt in the land of perfect
 bliss.
 It is not for nothing he has chosen to shed tears.
 Though with the smile of his dear face he draws mother's
yearning heart to him, yet his little cries over tiny troubles 
weave the double bond of pity and love.

Not only was my baby born, but another mother of two as well.  Again I'm learning, growing, shedding, changing, discovering, loving, inhaling and exhaling in new ways of being.  It's all so beautiful.

It's so many different things all at once, but on the nights I get sleep it all feels so, so beautiful.

 

Truth.

Truth? I'm a bit afraid of giving birth again.  Actually, not so much the final act of pushing my little one out into this world but of the process of labor.  We humans are so afraid of the unknown, aren't we?  Anything that involves a question mark feels so daunting.  Yes, it is also exciting but WOW am I scared now that I know what it involves.

There are a lot of new truths to face this time around.  One of them is becoming very apparent to me in these last days I have left as a momma of one:  that soon, a momma of two will be born.  The leader of the postpartum group I frequent always reminds us that with every child a new momma is born and I think after how difficult my first postpartum period was I decided to tune it out for my second entrance into the Laborinth.  But I can't ignore it anymore.  The hormonally-orchestrated emotional surges, the physical changes, and the anxieties are here to remind me another new me will emerge after birth.  I don't know if I'm ready for another change of ME but ready or not, here it comes.

More truth... whether I like it or not I will be having less time for myself.  My dancing has already been put on pause, my knitting will be on pause, some of my friendships will likely have a hiccup and any hope of finding my calling (besides mothering, that is) will be put on pause as well.  Time with my husband won't be the same again for a little while.  But I have set our first date night for Nov 16 (Breaking Dawn 2!) come rain or shine.

Balancing my time for my older little one is the most difficult thing I am facing of all.  I fear that she will feel jipped by my lack of full focus on her as before or rejected by seeing me with another baby.  It's like my friend said, "Imagine your husband bringing home a new, younger version of you that everyone is fawning over.  It can't feel great."  I think about that and my hairs stand on end.  I know it's something that has to be delicately handled so that I can keep her happy and knowing that we absolutely love and adore her.

I wrote this down in my journal yesterday:

"Birth is like an earthquake... it's a big shocker that moves EVERYTHING. Things eventually settle and go back to normal but they are certainly never the same..."

I am fearful of re-entering the Laborinth but, like the first time, I know the fog will clear.  I will see myself clearly again and will feel everything with a new wisdom and passion that I have understood and embraced.  As I feel the contractions and the tightening, I hold on to this the most.

3 am.

3-6 am.  The ambrosial hours. The hours of the day when the veil between what is seen and unseen is lifted.

For expectant mothers, this is the time when it is easiest to communicate with the little soul inside.

With my first little one, I used the moments when I was awake at this time to chant softly or do a meditation.  I felt my life was slower in many ways back then.  Today after lying awake in bed and just being and feeling for a while, I decided to get up and write.

Since I can't seem to remember basically anything these days, I reached out to a few mommas recently and asked them if the last trimester of pregnancy is like this- arising from sleep almost every day, wide awake at 4am with no desire to return to bed.  One mom responded, "Aw, Pema, you have pregnancy anxiety" and went on to give me some advice on how to sleep better or, at the very least, feel more relaxed.  I didn't realize until tonight that I actually do have some anxiety about my pregnancy and our new baby.  I hadn't thought it would be a "thing" this time around and now I see it is.

When I woke up from my sleep and stayed in bed rubbing my belly and taking deep breaths, I thought a lot about how sleep is going to work.  My daughter (who needs a considerable amount of room when she sleeps as she takes about 500 different positions in all four directions all night), sleeps in a full sized bed that we placed on the floor next to our bed.  But every day between 4 and 7am, she sleepily- and so adorably- climbs into our bed and stays there until we all get up.  So, with a new baby in our bed already, where is she going to sleep?  Is she going to wake up the baby?  Is she going to be annoyed at the baby being there?  Are we going to even fit?  I decided to let that all go and figure it out when we get there.  But then...

The thoughts about being a good mother came flooding back.  I thought this was over with the first one because since you're already being whatever mother you already are every day, the fear of being or not being a good one would be a moot point.  I began to think about the journal that I started when our first was born and how we wrote so much more to her than we have to this baby.  I thought about how I used to do more breathing and meditation with my first.  And on the other hand, I thought about how much more willing and able to open up to a child this time around.  How much wiser I am in ways of not only sustaining a new life but being a constant co-creator in the flourishing of his or her soul.  While the acknowledgement of this growth makes me happy and satisfied, it also makes me feel a bit sad.

I resisted being a mother for a long time after my first was born.  I did not only not accept the complete life change, I very much denied it inside.  I cried and cried and cried for what seemed like forever and honestly didn't level out until she was well over a year old.  I don't say "I started feeling like myself again until she was well over a year old" because I understand now that that was never going to happen.  First of all, who is "myself" and second of all there is no going back in life and especially never in parenthood.  It took a while to be okay with that and to start seeing it as a true blessing.

So now here I am, in a better place to mother so I feel my first may have gotten jipped.  Because not only did I do a lot of "accepting" of the changes, I began to embrace them completely.  "I am a mother" became "I am going to be a wonderful mother to my child" so I took the steps I felt were necessary to do so.  I sought out counseling.  I did energy work. I sat in circles with moms for wisdom and support.  I took on new hobbies so that I wasn't just MOM. And when I felt strong enough, I started dance classes again.  And even further, I began to read books about early childhood development so as to know how to fully support children in all their stages of growth, help them maintain their health and keep their innocence and creativity ever alive.  I've even entertained the thought of becoming a Waldorf teacher. All things I never thought I would enjoy and appreciate as deeply as I am.

So, I get a little teary when I think about the guinea pig parenting that went on with my first little one.  Especially in the first year.  I would have done so many things differently already.  Even saying that though, takes me out of the guilt immediately, because what else do we do as human beings but change and grow?  Even more exponentially so as parents.  So, there was really no way I could have been anyone else to her than who I was and no way I can be anyone else to this new little soul coming to us than who I am now.

Through all the thoughts and the changes, one thing stays the same... I always ask Goddess for more insight for myself, more love to give my family and more wisdom to grow into a fuller expression of divine aliveness every day.

A gold in Olympic toilet nursing.

I was introduced via Twitter to a new mom-to-be's blog who began writing for catharsis.  I totally get it.  I started writing my blog postpartum for that same reason and here I am- two and a half years later... still needing healing albeit in different ways than how I used to.  Every time I encounter a new mom I'm somewhere in between screaming "run for your life!" and cooing "it's the most wonderful thing in the world" while offering a sweet smile.  And I truly mean both of these highly emotional statements at the moment they are uttered, even though they sometimes come with just a moment's pause in between.  Welcome to motherhood :) Today has been a very emotional day.  Whether it's the pregnancy hormones or just the plethora of chaotic things that seem to be going on all around me, I feel sad and tired and have just wanted to be under the covers all day but, of course, unable to because toddlers don't find naps or laying down to be any fun at all.  As my day winded down and we got ready for bath time, we all undressed and waited for the tub to fill up.  I was revisiting my day in my mind and wondering why my toddler's been so attached to me all day.  She was nursing every second she got (which reminded me of Faith Ploud- Miami's go-to lactation guru- and her words of wisdom when I asked her, "How do I wean her when I'm ready?"  She simply said, "Don't sit down.") and when I wasn't sitting, she was clinging on to one of my legs.  I thought about it for a moment and realized that the days I need more love and comfort are the days she usually needs more of them too.  Whether it's because I go into my cave and do not pay as much attention to her or because she gets a clear read on my feelings and becomes empathetic to them, she always seems to feel frustrated when I'm frustrated, angry when I'm angry and exhausted when I'm exhausted.

So, there I am waiting for the tub to fill, thinking about my very long day when I realize that as I am on the toilet, my toddler has squeezed her way in between my legs and has been nursing the entire time.  She was all contorted so she could reach it better and her little neck was all stretched out.  It was so funny.  But, like I said, she was having a day too and wanted comfort every moment she could get it (she climbed on to me just a few seconds ago and is nursing as I type right now).  I started laughing and went off into a daydream- very much like J.D. from Scrubs- about other nursing moms having moments like these and how there should be Mom Olympics and then I imagined moms in all kinds of funny/painful/strange nursing situations with their kids on a stage with judges looking on and awarding me the gold medal for determination and stamina.  Two and a half years later.  And even while on the toilet.

"Life changes sometimes."

Yes new moms, it certainly does.