19 things I gave up when I became a mom

There’s an article floating around my Facebook newsfeed entitled “27 Things You Must Say Goodbye to When You Turn 27.” I read it mostly for the LULZ, because, at 27, I was pretty certain most of the things on it I had said goodbye to long ago. I wasn’t wrong. I had a mostly “Eh” response to it (unlike other people, who were much more, errr, emphatic about it). It did, however, make me think about all the things I said goodbye to when I became a mom.

1. A clean house. Gone are the days where my living room is not coated in a layer of toys, board books, and all the pillows and throw blankets from the furniture. These days I’m happy if the mess is contained to one room and not spread through the whole house.

2. Being on top of my laundry. I was never very good at keeping up with my laundry before, but eventually it all got done/folded/put away. I am pretty sure, since A was born, I have not had ALL the laundry done at one time ever. In fact, and I’m a little ashamed to admit this, we have dubbed our guest room as the “laundry room” as all of the clean, out of the dryer laundry gets dumped there and stays there until it gets folded. I was sorting it the other day and was pulling 12 month clothes out of the piles. A hasn’t worn 12 months since December.

3. Or my dishes. Of all the chores, the one I must do compulsively is the dishes. I cannot stand dirty dishes in the sink. I was slightly more lax on this when we didn’t have a dishwasher. Since acquiring one, I am less forgiving. However, it seems there is always a dish to be done, or a dishwasher to be unloaded, even if I literally just washed all the dishes five minutes ago.

4. Spending more than 10 minutes getting ready for anything. I used to have a very long, involved, and detailed routine in the mornings for class (grad school, not undergrad) and work, which could be doubled if I was going out somewhere fun. My basic routine now is shower, debate whether I truly need to wear make up/dry my hair before deciding nah, I don’t, and throw on whatever is clean and not too wrinkled.

5. Leaving the house not covered in some sort of unidentified stain. You would think this pertains mostly to mothers of newborns, but it carries on to toddlerhood. Even with my child self-feeding, I’ll still take a grubby yogurt hand to the chest and not notice it till it’s too late. At least I hope it’s yogurt.

6. Using the bathroom alone. I had always hoped this one was something other people exaggerated about, but alas, it is not. I now have a peanut gallery, every. single. time.

7. Taking showers so long all the hot water is gone. I used to love taking long, hot showers. I considered it a good shower if my skin was slightly singed from how hot it was and all my digits were pruney because I had been in it for so long. I don’t even know what I did during these long showers. Draft grocery lists, ruminate on how so and so at work had slighted me, contemplate the universe? Who knows. Now I’m just lucky if I get to take a shower daily.

8. Buying clothes anyplace other than Target. I mean, it’s just convenient. I’m already there for everything else I need in life, I may as well buy my clothes there too. Plus, who can resist Target’s clearance section? Not me.

9. Watching whatever I want on TV. My Netflix queue, once filled with high quality movies and television like Clueless, Steel Magnolias, and How I Met Your Mother, is now filled with Sesame Street, Dinosaur Train, and all of the Tinker Bell movies.

10. Eating whatever I want. And not because I am worried about being super healthy or not gaining weight, but rather because now there is a small creature who thinks everything is for sharing, and wants whatever it is I am having, no matter how many times I tell her “It’s yucky! You won’t like it. Yucky yuck yuck.” She’s just not buying it.

11. Sleeping past 8am. Even when given the opportunity to sleep in, my body just can’t physiologically do it anymore, thanks to countless early wake up calls. Plus, those hours before A wakes up are some of the only hours I have to myself. All of this depresses me, considering I used to sleep in past noon on the reg.

12. Having a clean car. My father and husband would argue I have never kept a clean car, and to some extent they are correct. It is not my number one priority in life. But adding a kid into the mix just made my already cluttered car 100x worse. My backseat is currently covered in daycare report cards and coloring sheets, even though she hasn’t been in daycare for two weeks.

13. Getting anywhere on time. I used to be so freaking punctual. I spent most of my high school days perpetually late, so I worked really hard to correct this in college and grad school. For several years I was even perpetually early. That’s over. Now I’m lucky if we are leaving the house at the time we were supposed to be somewhere.

14. Or staying anywhere until the event is over. I used to close any and all parties down. I was known to be at the bar till last call. Now I’m like “Oh sorry, but the baby’s bedtime was 10 minutes ago, gotta run!” at 7:40pm.

15. Day drinking. Unless it is a special occasion, or I have someone else to take care of A, this just doesn’t happen anymore. I actually did get to participate in some day drinking at my best friend Bailey’s wedding last month, and it was awesome, but John had to wrangle our toddler the whole time. You can’t have it all, can you.

16. Not making/getting dinner because “I just don’t feel like it,” and just eating Cheetos and chocolate chips straight out of the bag (with cheap wine as a chaser). I am now responsible for providing healthy, balanced meals for A. And because she gets hungry, like all the time, I have to either cook or pick up dinner daily even when “I just don’t feel like it.”

17. Having the “latest” anything. The MacBook Pro I am writing this on was purchased in 2009. Just yesterday, I bought a new charger for it since the original one died. That $84 was the first money I spent on this laptop since I bought it. And I am going to happily use it until the keys fall off. My iPhone is an iPhone 4, purchased in (brace yourself) 2010. Yes, I bought my iPhone four years ago. Here’s some context for you: I have only been married three years. But my kid? She has all the newest toys.

18. Leisurely drinking a pot of coffee while doing crossword puzzles on the weekends. This was something I used to do every weekend, without fail, since grad school. I’m not sure I know what leisure means anymore.

19. Actually, weekends in general. And Fridays for that matter. Friday-Sunday lost all meaning with A’s birth.

Of course, I gained a lot more than I lost when I had A. I learned what it means to love someone else unconditionally. I learned what it means to give yourself completely to another person’s well-being, and to be happy to do so. I gained a world full of smiles, snuggles, hugs, kisses, and giggles. And truthfully, I don’t really mind the mess. I save a lot of money on make up by not wearing it daily. A spoon left in the sink isn’t going to kill me.

I do kind of wish I was better about the laundry though.

In response to the original article, here at the age of 27, I still enjoy everything bagels with full fat cream cheese, because c’mon, I don’t have weekends anymore. Throw a girl a bone.

On living your dreams

Sometimes I get so caught up in being a mom and a wife and a employee that I forget before I was all of these things, I was a person with amazing dreams.

I’d actually say the truth is closer to me forgetting that person is still in there somewhere

My life has become very predictable. I basically do the same things day in and day out. This isn’t a bad thing, per se, there is something nice about stability, and it’s especially good for little kids. But I haven’t been feeling particularly happy lately (and by lately I mean for the past several months), and I think this hum drum lilt my life has taken is partially to blame.

I used to be this person with a thirst for life, with huge dreams and ambitions. I wanted to see things, do things, change things. And I’m not really sure what happened. I’d like to say pregnancy and motherhood happened, but this started before A was ever thought of. I think somewhere along the way, I got scared. Scared of trying, scared of failing. I don’t want to live my life afraid of doing things, and I don’t want to teach my daughter to live in fear of new experiences.

I want to be the person I was before, the person with all the dreams. And even more importantly, I want to live out those dreams.

Last night I took the first step in living one of my dreams.

BACKSTORY: A few years ago I read this book, and it started a strange fascination with rock climbing and mountaineering I never knew I had in me. Since then, I’ve read countless books on the subject and watched every Everest or mountain documentary on Netflix. I’ve even planned out the order I’d attempt the Seven Summits in. It’s become a little bit of a quiet obsession, a secret wish. I don’t really talk much about for fear of laughter and ridicule.

Anyway.

A couple weeks ago I started watching Destination Truth on Netflix (total nerd alert, I know). Being the dork I am, I bought and read Josh Gates‘ book, Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter. His honest discussion of how climbing Kilimanjaro changed the path of his life made me realize I need to do something to change the course of mine, and I need to do it quickly.

So last night I went to an indoor rock climbing gym. I know, it’s not exactly Kilimanjaro, but it’s a first step, albeit a baby step, in what I hope to be a very long journey.

I’m not going to lie, I was excited and terrified all day yesterday, and I almost called off the whole thing several times. But I’m happy I did it, because I genuinely enjoyed it. The first time I reached the top of the wall, it felt like I was summit-ing my own personal Everest.

I know a lot of people would say you need to give up these types of dreams when you become a mom. Some might even call this selfish, but I disagree with these sentiments. I want to do and see these amazing things, but I want to share them with A.

After all, how can we teach our kids to follow their dreams if we aren’t willing to follow our own?

N-A-P spells…

A has never been the world’s greatest napper. She’s pretty terrible at it. Over the past 11 months, we have struggled to maintain an effective nap schedule. At daycare, she’s the worst. She takes one, sometimes two, very short naps a day. And by short I mean less than 30 minutes each. As a result, by the time I pick her up, she is cranky and irritable and ready for an early bedtime.

Even on weekends, I have to fight for her to take naps. Take right now, for instance. A started exhibiting the signs of being tired around nine. This is about normal, as I usually go get her from her room around seven (she may be awake before that, but that’s when she usually starts making noise). Our nap routine is pretty simple: Put her in her crib, hand her her lovie, she sucks her thumb and plops down. Lights out. I don’t make a big deal out of it because I don’t want her to have to do certain things to get to sleep during the day, since I know it’s going to be pretty cut and dry in the toddler room at daycare.

Some days, she goes right to sleep and stays that way for a while. Today, it’s been a challenge. I listened to her babble to herself for about 20 minutes before the babbling turned into crying. The crying eventually turned into screaming before I finally went and got her. I’d like to say she just wasn’t ready for a nap, but I know she was. Even when I let her play, she kept laying down on the living room floor, sucking her thumb and rubbing her eyes: Three tell-tale signs she is sleepy. I just put her back down, hopefully she’ll go to sleep this time.

Naps are important because A needs that reset a couple times a day. Her weekdays are pretty long, though not as long as they were when we were in Baton Rouge (a big perk of my new job is she is not at daycare as long). On weekends, her naps are equally important for me. John is gone most weekends, and if I want to get anything done, it needs to be done when she naps. And I feel really bad about this, especially since I work all week, but, honestly? Mama needs some down time, too. When she doesn’t nap, we’re both cranky.

From here on, I’m thinking we’re just going to refer to nap time as “quiet time” in this house, and she can do with it what she wants. If she sleeps, great. If she cries, okay. If she talks to herself for an hour, well, that’s fine too. But I think it’s important we both have time to recharge during our day. After all, happy mama = happy baby. And vice versa.

The first bump

A has always been a clingy baby. She’s a lot like me in that she loves company and does not play well alone. If it were up to her, she would be permanently attached to my hip. I would love to be able to indulge her in this, but she isn’t exactly getting any lighter, plus it’s not realistic. I am extremely adept at doing things one handed, but some things require two hands.

The hardest part of the day right now without John is definitely morning time. Having no extra set of hands at our busiest time is a challenge. I do my best to get as much done before A is up and ready for the day, but inevitably there are things I need to do after she’s up, which means I have to put her down.

Anyway, what I’m getting to is, this morning I put A down while I was getting her bottles packed up for daycare. I usually put her in her highchair, but this morning I figured it would take longer to wrestle her in there than it would to just get the bottles and go, plus she’s starting to test her mobility so she doesn’t like being constrained. So I just put her down on the floor outside the kitchen. A has taken to rocking back and forth whenever she gets excited, and after I put her down this morning I was singing and talking to her to keep her from getting upset. She was rocking and sneezed a HUGE sneeze at the same time. The sneeze caused her to tumble over. Unfortunately, she did not tumble backwards, where there was a pillow to catch her, but instead she tumbled forward and to the side, where she caught her forehead on the edge of the door frame.

I was only about a foot away from her and was able to scoop her up a nanosecond after it happened, but it was about two nanoseconds too late. There was screaming. And there were tears. Oh, were there tears…

After she calmed down, I looker her over and there appeared to be no permanent damage. She was all smiles when I strapped her into the car seat and was happily handed over to her teacher at daycare. About ten minutes after leaving, though, I got a call from daycare about the “huge knot on her head,” and I automatically felt like the crappiest mom ever.

I explained to them what happened, they said okay, and I spent the rest of my day vacillating between worrying daycare was going to call Child Protective Services and report me for abuse and contemplating leaving early to take her to the doctor to have it checked out. I ended up trusting my instinct, that she was fine, and if there was anything truly wrong daycare would call. They never did. When I picked her up this afternoon, she was The Happiest Baby again. The first thing I did was feel her head, and the “huge knot” appears to have gone down significantly without bruising. And no one called CPS (go figure). No one even mentioned it when I got her.

I know this is the first of many bumps and bruises she’ll get, and they’re inevitable, bound to happen to all babies as they grow. But I still feel bad about it. As moms, what we want more than anything is to protect our children from everything that can hurt them, and in a small way I feel like I let her down.

Which is stupid, because judging by the smiles and sugar she’s been giving me all evening, there is no love loss between us. I guess we’ll just chalk this one up to mommy learning experiences.

Letting go of mommy guilt

One of my goals for 2013 is to simply enjoy my life more. One part of that is letting go of unhealthy thoughts. I have been struggling lately with some serious mommy guilt. It seems every thing I do elicits a guilt trip.

Let me be totally clear here. I am the only one making myself feel guilty, no one else. There are environmental factors contributing, but no one is standing over me making me feel bad. The two big things I’ve been feeling guilty about are A’s feeding situation and working/daycare. When I was pregnant, I had grand illusions about exclusively breast feeding for at least six months, then starting solids, but still nursing till A was a year old.

What I didn’t count on was how difficult breast feeding would be. And how tiring it is. And I really didn’t realize how hard and time consuming pumping is. On a good day at work I get to pump three times. If I’m lucky I can get two to three ounces a session. That leaves me with, at most, nine ounces, but it’s usually closer to six. (Have I mentioned how I have to pump in my car because there’s no where in the office to pump? Awkward.)

I’m back at work full time now. A takes five to six four ounce bottles a day while I’m gone. You don’t have to be a math wiz to figure out that’s not enough to make it a whole day. I pumped three times a day, everyday for the last few weeks of my maternity leave, but since most of those sessions only yielded between an ounce to three ounces, if I used all of them now to supplement what I’m not getting, I’d be out in a week.

As a result, we have been supplementing with formula. And I feel terribly guilty about it. Formula gets a bad rap from just about everyone. And I find a lot of EBF moms to be extremely vocal about how they’ve made BFing work, and how they would NEVER use formula. Constantly hearing how others succeeded at what you failed at will make you feel guilty every time.

I’ve tried adding an extra pumping session after I get home but if I’m being honest, by the time I get done at work the last thing I feel like doing is pumping. I just want to spend time with John and A. I don’t really think it’s a supply issue; she gets plenty when she’s nursing (she’s always satisfied after nursing and has good diaper outputs when we’re at home together not bottle feeding). I don’t have the expendable income to by a new pump to see if it a different one will get more, either. My mom says she never was able to get a ton when she pumped either, so maybe it’s hereditary. I don’t know.

A also sometimes gets bottles when we’re out and about. This is mostly because I don’t particularly feel like nursing in public. I have nothing against moms who do, I just don’t really think it’s for me. I’ll nurse her in my car in between stops if we cross into feeding time, but sometimes I just pack a bottle if we’re in a time crunch. I always feel like I’m being silently judged.

I know it’s stupid to feel guilty about this. I’m still breast feeding, and what’s really important is A gets what she needs regardless of where it comes from. But I can’t help but feel like I’ve failed her in a way.

Then there’s the working mom thing. I don’t think there is a greater guilt than that of a working mother. On one hand I need to support my child and provide healthcare for her. On the other I can’t help but feel I’m abandoning her a little everyday. (On a slightly related note: SAHMs, can we call a truce and recognize our lives are equally difficult?) I know I’m being ridiculous. My mom worked when I was growing up, and I surely don’t resent her for it. A has no idea I’m not there right now, and hopefully by the time she’s having dance recitals or soccer games I’ll be either staying home or in a job with more flexibility. Right now she’s happy when she sees me, and she’s also happy when she’s with her caretakers, but I still miss her terribly.

Feeling guilty over these things is stupid and unproductive. In the end I’m doing the best I can under the circumstances, and really that’s all I can do. I may not be the world’s best mom (and really, who is?), but I am the best mom for A. I can tell by the way she looks at me, like I am the center of her universe. I can tell by the way she rests her head on my shoulder. I can tell by the way she wants only me when she is fussy. I can tell because I am her mom, and she’s healthy and happy. That’s all that really matters, anyway.

Doll baby

When I was little, my favorite toys were baby dolls. I had dozens of them; I got a new doll every Christmas and birthday. I had dolls that looked like toddlers, dolls that looked like newborns, dolls with hair, dolls without hair, dolls that talked, dolls that lit up, dolls that played music, even a porcelain doll (or my “glass baby” as I called it), the list goes on. If it was a doll made in the 90’s, chances were I had it.

And if I had it, chances were I loved it. Like, love loved it. For instance, I named all of my dolls. At the time, I favored trendy names, like Courtney, Brittany and Amanda. And if you mistook Courtney for Amanda, I was sure to correct you. Each doll baby was special.

Often kids who play with the same toy over and over kind of abuse it, but I respected those dolls and took care of them as if they were real babies. To me, they were the symbols of my future babies, and deserved to be treated as such. I dressed them, swaddled them, and took them for rides in a toy carriage. And it was a carriage, an old fashioned pram, and I loved it. It was maroon with white flowers on the sides with a white canopy. I would tuck my baby into it and push it around the house.

I played with dolls for a long time. Probably longer than I should have. But, like most kids, I loved to imagine what my future would be like. And for me, the only future I wanted or cared to hear about was one involving motherhood and babies. I was basically drowning in unused maternal instinct. I had no younger siblings, no young cousins close, and I wasn’t old enough to babysit. I had no one to smother with my love and affection, so I used my dolls.

A is getting her first baby doll for Christmas. A soft, huggable baby that laughs when you squeeze her. She’s too young to play with it now. Maybe she’ll never play with it at all. I just couldn’t help myself. Yes, I bought it for her, in hopes she will want to be a little mommy herself, but in many ways I bought it for me too. Whenever I see that doll sitting on the floor, waiting to be wrapped, I can’t help but pick her up and give her a gentle squeeze. When I hear her giggle, I see two little girls playing. I see myself as a child loving all my babies, and I see my real baby as her future little girl, and I imagine what her little laugh will sound like, and I smile.

Now, whenever I go to the store, I always walk down the doll aisle. Dolls have changed a lot from when I was growing up, but they still mean the same things to the little girls who are playing with them, so I always straighten the displays so they look their best for their future little mommies. And wherever I am, if I see an errant baby doll, I always pick it up, smooth its hair or clothes, and give it a kiss before placing it back where it belongs. While I love my real life baby far more than I ever thought possible, I can’t help still having a little love for all those doll babies.

It’s not me, it’s you

Last week I tried to take A to the store. I put her in her stroller and for the first few minutes, she was fine. This quickly deteriorated, and she started screaming. I took her outside to try to get her to calm down, where a lady said to me, “Uh oh, looks like someone is hungry or wet!” I looked right at her and said, “Actually, she just ate half an hour ago and being wet doesn’t really bother her, but she actually has a fresh diaper on, thanks for the help.” Yes, I snapped. I’m not particularly proud of it, but she was being pretty condescending. File this under how NOT to deal with unsolicited advice.

We get these kind of comments a lot, especially when someone else is holding her. A is not an easy baby. She wants to be held all the time, she doesn’t sleep well (unless, of course, she is being held), and she has her fussy times (usually between 4-8pm, but occasionally a pop up fuss occurs). When we’re with other people and they’re holding her and she squirms or cries some, they automatically assume she’s hungry or wet or tired, or basically in some way I am not making sure her basic needs are met.

In her almost two months with us, I have learned a lot about little miss fuss. I know how to calm her down, how she likes to be held, when she’s hungry, or when she’s tired, because I am her mother. And even though she can be fussy (we’re pretty sure she’s somewhat colicky) and only really sleeps when she’s with us, she is on a pretty consistent schedule right now, eating every 2.5-3 hours, taking 3-4 naps daily, and going to bed between 9-10pm every night.

So, I get a little offended when other people assume I am not doing something right. I want to say, “No, she just doesn’t like to be held that way.” Most people cradle A, but when she’s awake, she much prefers either sitting up in your lap or being held up on your shoulder. She’s very curious, very alert, and likes to look around. Or I could tell them, “She’s bored.” Because she likes to look at things, she gets bored pretty quickly, so I spend most of my time walking around, showing her different things, or taking her outside. She LOVES being outside.

I know there are a lot of more experienced moms out there, but what I’m saying is, please don’t assume a new mom doesn’t know what’s wrong with her crying child simply because she’s a new mom. Chances are she knows exactly why her baby is upset and is trying to rectify it the best way she can, which is to say however her baby wants her to. And even if she doesn’t and like A, the baby is just fussy, she probably doesn’t need someone telling her “he/she is probably hungry, you need to feed him/her more” or “have you changed her/him recently?” Trust me, it will only frustrate Momma more.

(And don’t even get me started on making comments to someone about how they’ve chosen to feed their child. That’s another discussion for another time.)

So, I’m going to speak on behalf of new mommies everywhere: If you’re going to say something, please be helpful, and try not to come across as judgmental. We’re tired, okay? We can’t always control what we say when we’re sleep deprived (I’m sure you remember what that’s like), and we would hate to come across as rude.