Oct 152014
 

Dear Momma who wrote the subtly titled, “Dear Stay-At-Home-Moms, Please Shut Up.“,

So many things crossed my mind when I read this.

So. Many. Things.

First the good:

1) At least you said “Please”.

And now… the rest:

While I agree with the sentiment that EVERYONE should be grateful for their blessings, what I take offense to is the notion that Stay-At-Home-Moms (SAHMs) should “shut their friggin’ pie holes.”  I am a mom who, by choice, quit my full-time job to stay home with my children, but who, also by choice, sometimes sends my kids to daycare so I can do freelance work… not because I have to, but because I WANT to.  I guess you would call me a SAHM, but I don’t know why we need titles. I am a mom.  I love being home with my amazing children. However, I have also been known to complain about said amazing children.  And I’m sorry, Momma, if that gives you a bad rap, but I have never been one to shut my friggin’ pie-hole, and I sure as hell am not going to start now. So here’s my piehole’s worth…

Being a parent is a blessing, but it is also a job. Some would even say it’s a dream job. The pay aint much and the hours are long, but it has a an unimaginable bonus structure. But here’s the deal: Every single person I know – even those with dream jobs – complain from time to time. Long hours, ridiculous clients, tough bosses, annoying coworkers, or even just run-of-the-mill mental or physical exhaustion. No one I know is totally immune to the siren’s call of a good old-fashioned bitch sesh. Do you know why this is? Because hard work is… well… hard. And sometimes bitching just feels good. It’s a God-given right for every person to be able to bitch now and then. Well, I don’t know if God actually gave us that right, but I am pretty sure it is written in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence or the owner/operator manual or something. Anyway, if complaining isn’t a right, it should be. So, just because a SAHM or SAHD doesn’t get paid in actual dollars or have an actual boss – other than a tyrant toddler – does he or she also forfeit the right to bitch about his or her job? I think not.

Just because a parent complains about their exhausting days or unruly children, doesn’t mean they love their job or their children any less.  It means that they are human. It means that their job is tough sometimes.  It could mean that they need a hand or possibly just an ear. Telling other moms to shut up about their frustrations is just another example of the Mean Mom syndrome that plagues our playgrounds, mommy groups and internet boards. And, with baby blues and postpartum depression running rampant, it’s more than just mean – it’s irresponsible and dangerous.

Momma, I love my children more than I could ever put into words.  I am grateful for every milestone I can witness, every boo-boo I can kiss and dirty butt I can wipe. Ok, I could actually live without the butt-wiping, but still.  I know that there are many parents who wish they could be home with their children, who cannot.  I also know that there are many parents who stay home with their children, who long to go back to work, but cannot. But most of all, I know that whether you work outside the home or inside the home with your children, we parents are all working double time.  There is no break from parenthood. There is no rest. There is no perfect balance. There is only doing the best we can.  And while we go into parenthood knowing this, it doesn’t make it any easier. This journey called parenthood is the most amazing journey life has to offer, but sometimes the road is bumpy. Sometimes it even seems impossible. That’s why we need to help and support one another, not tear each other down, and certainly not shut each other up.

So Momma, the next time a friend knocks at your door with her “greasy hair and caffeine withdrawals”, instead of telling her to “just be content or quit your whining” maybe you could try listening. Maybe you could offer some help, or just some sympathy. Or maybe you could offer up some pie for her friggin’ pie-hole. Pie always makes me feel better.

Just a suggestion.

With respect,

Courtney

shut up

 

photo credit: LaVladina via photopin cc

Jun 102014
 

This morning I again found myself in the same place I find myself every morning:  engaged in battle with my three-year-old daughter about what she is going to wear.  No matter how difficult it is for me, I try to let her pick out her own clothes. And believe me, it IS difficult for me.”Are you SURE you want to wear a pink velour skirt with a red velour dress and purple pants?Yeah,  that looks amaaaaazing.” Clearly, my three-year-old doesn’t grasp sarcasm yet, but with me as her mother I am sure that it won’t be long.

It is difficult to let her make her own mistakes…um… I mean, choices, but I want her to be able to express who she is – even if who she is is colorblind. I guess that is probably the one of the hardest things about raising children, right? Letting them make their own mistakes, and learn from them. Letting them be who they are, even if it’s not who you want them to be.

But, while I try to let her make her own decisions, at least regarding her clothes, I do draw the line at things that are inappropriate for one reason or another:  Snow boots when it is 100 degrees outside, her fancy party dress that will likely turn into a cleaning rag after one day at school. Todays’ battle du jour was about a maxi-dress that she loves (and yes, I know it’s ridiculous that my three-year-old has a maxi-dress), but I don’t think is appropriate for running around and playing at school. Here’s a sampling of this morning’s conversation regarding said dress:

Lyla: “I want to wear THIS dress”

Me: “No honey, you know that’s not a good dress for school. How about one of these twelve dresses instead?”

L: “Nope. This is the one.”

M: “But honey, that dress is long. I’m worried that you won’t be able to run around and play at school.”

L: “Why can’t I run around and play?”

M: “Because I am scared that you will trip over the dress and fall.”

L (smiling brighter than the sun): “Oh mama, that’s ok. If I fall, I will just pick myself back up!”

 

And that, my friends, is solid proof of my theory that our children have so much more to teach us than we will ever teach them.

And also why my daughter is wearing her maxi-dress at school today.

May 132014
 

There was this art project that I used to love to do as a kid: we would take an egg and make a tiny little hole in each end with a pin. Then we would blow through one end, and all the raw egg inside would come shooting out. Once you got all those pesky insides out, you would have a perfect eggshell to decorate. It would be fragile, of course. But unlike a regular egg that would eventually fester and rot, the eggshell could last forever if treated carefully. The idea is so simple: remove the parts that can go bad, and the shell will endure. It is preservation at its finest.  But, I never really appreciated the idea of preservation. When I was a kid, I just liked blowing out all the disgusting raw egg into my friends’ faces… and by “when I was a kid” I mean yesterday.

When my baby boy was three months old, I mentioned to my pediatrician that he had a slightly odd birthmark on his back.  It was something my husband and I had noticed about him from the day he was born.  It was tiny and hidden right above his butt crack, a place no one would but a parent would ever examine closely enough to notice. I didn’t mention it to my doctor until my son was three months old because it seemed innocent enough: a cute little birthmark. The human body is an amazing thing though, and sometimes these innocent little markings are warnings of something much more nefarious.

My doctor told me it was probably nothing, but we should get it checked out to make sure. She told me that I shouldn’t lose any sleep over it.  But of course, I lost sleep over it. A lot of sleep. Luckily I had a toddler and a three-month-old baby, so I wasn’t sleeping much anyway.

After an ultra-sound, an MRI and a few meetings with a neurosurgeon, we discovered that my son had something called a tethered spinal cord, and would need surgery to correct it. A tethered cord is a birth defect, where the spinal cord is literally tethered down by something (in this case a fatty growth called a lypoma) so that it cannot hang freely as it normally would, and instead stretches and pulls, damaging the big bundle of nerves that make up the spinal cord. That big bundle of nerves is tied to many different things: legs, feet, bladder, bowels, and brain to name a few. If not corrected, it can cause any assortment of developmental and physical difficulties. In addition, that innocent-looking birthmark was actually a tract that ran directly from the spinal cord to the outside of his back. So that cute little marking actually put him at risk for meningitis and other infections. Scary right? You don’t know the half of it. At least, I hope you never do.

Before Jan 13th, I didn’t know the half of it either. But on that day, the day of my baby’s three-month doctor appointment, and the months that followed, I learned what scary really meant. And it wasn’t just sleep I lost over those months, it was everything. Sadness, guilt, anger, and THE FEAR plagued me every minute of every day. My perfect baby was not perfect. My sweet little boy would have to undergo surgery and so much more. And there were so many unanswered questions, so much we wouldn’t know until it was possibly too late. How could I sleep? How could I think of everything else?!

There was a brief moment of each day that I forgot THE FEAR: each morning when I woke up and scooped my delicious bundle out of his bassinet and looked into his smiling face, I got at least two minutes of unadulterated joy. Two whole minutes of staring at his perfect face. Of breathing in his sweet smell. Two luscious minutes of reveling in the perfection of him before – BAM!!! – my memory, and with it THE FEAR, would return with such force that it took my breath away. Every. Single. Day.

So, I couldn’t sleep at night. I would spend hours crying during the day. I couldn’t play with my wonderful daughter, or even enjoy the sweet miracle that was my baby son. All I had was my sadness, my guilt, my anger and THE FEAR. I was drowning in them all. So I did what I had to do to endure. I made myself stop crying. I made myself stop thinking and stop feeling. I removed everything inside me that was festering and rotting, and I became a shell – fragile yet enduring. It was self-preservation at its finest.

The problem with hollowing yourself out like that, is that you cannot choose what stays and what goes. You cannot remove the sadness without removing the joy. You cannot remove THE FEAR while leaving the hope. So I became an empty. I went about my daily life, of course. I did what needed to be done.  I took my daughter to school and to dance class. I took my son to his doctor’s appointments. I made dinner, I fed my children. I sometimes fed myself. I even went out with friends. I laughed at their jokes. I drank too much wine. From the outside, everything looked normal. But on the inside, I was empty.

Slowly but surely, though, little cracks began to show. Maybe not big enough for everyone to see, especially because I was master at painting myself up to look the same as I was before. I began to hide out to protect myself. I shut out most of my friends, because I didn’t want to take a chance of having to talk about what I was feeling. I picked fights with my husband about anything other than what I was really upset about. I stopped writing. I quit doing anything that would force me to be honest about myself, because I felt like if I was honest, then my cracks would spread and I would break into a million pieces. I thought that if I really started crying that I would never stop. And mommies can’t do that.

But I endured. My son had his surgery almost two months ago, and he is doing great. Kids are amazing in their resilience. His scar, that takes up almost half of his back, is quickly fading. But somehow, my scars are still angry and raw. I thought that once the surgery was done and life went back to normal, the FEAR would go away and that I would go back to normal too. But I guess once you empty yourself out like that, it’s hard to fill yourself back up. I guess once THE FEAR finds you, it’s really hard to ever chase it away.

I am trying. I am trying to be brave enough to let go of THE FEAR. I am trying to be brave enough to allow myself to be filled with emotions, both good and bad. The strange thing is that I cry now more than I ever did. But I smile more too. I am repairing my cracks, little by little. I think the first step is to let my cracks show, and to realize that admitting that you are broken doesn’t mean that you can’t be put back together.

egg

 

photo credit: katerha via photopin cc

May 072014
 

It’s been a long time, friends. I have missed writing. But life has been hard lately… too hard to write about and really even too hard to talk about.  But also too hard to NOT write about and pretend like everything is fine and  instead write something light and funny about dirty diapers and sleepless nights (because those topics are suuuuper funny, right?). So, since I couldn’t talk about the hard things, and I couldn’t ignore the hard things and write about the light things, I chose to write nothing. Nothing at all.

Now things are much better, but I am really not. I’m exhausted and shattered,  and I am trying to figure out how to put the pieces back together. One thing that always makes me feel better is writing, so I decided to start writing this blog again. Only, I have been sitting here for two days trying to write, and it is too scary and too hard. And I am still shattered, so I cry a lot. Mostly over simple things like spelling mistakes and trying to remember the correct way to use “who’s” or “whose” for the title.

So I am still working on my first blog post back. Please disregard this post, because it totally doesn’t count. This is just a blip. Or possibly a ramble. And if I am being truthful, what it really is is just a time-waster because writing a blog about the hard stuff is scary. And rambling is easier.

So this is not my first blog post. The next one is. And shit is going to get real, my friends. It’s probably not going to be pretty. It’s probably not going to be funny (is it ever?). And there is a strong possibility that it will be full of grammatical errors. But, I promise you this: it will be real. And that’s what makes it all so scary.

 

Jan 232014
 

Let’s face it, there is some sort of weird, high-schoolish hierarchy at play between many moms.  I get so tired of the judgement and competition between mommies, and I have witnessed more than a few “Mean Mom” moments myself. But, I gotta tell ya, when push comes to shove comes to nervous breakdown… Moms rock!

I’m going through a tough time right now. Really tough. I won’t bore, or possibly interest you, with the details, but let’s just say this has been the hardest month of my life.  On top of that, I have a crazy/awesome almost-three-year-old who doesn’t nap most days, and a sweet three-month-old who doesn’t sleep most nights. I’m tired. Really f-ing tired.

The other day I took my daughter to one of those coffee shop-slash-play areas. You know the kind where the kids can play while you drink overpriced coffee and where the other Lululemon-wearing, organic-feeding, their-stroller-costs-more-than-your-car type moms barely look at you… unless your kid is pulling their kid’s hair. Yeah. That place. Anyway, I took the kids there in hopes of wearing them both out enough so that they would take naps and I could finally get some work done. Ha.

Five minutes in, while nursing my son and before a single drop of $6 organic latte could cross my lips, all terrible-two hell broke loose. My daughter had an uber-meltdown.  Conveniently, these meltdowns always happen while I am right in the middle of nursing, so I have chase my daughter around with my boobs out and my Hooter Hider flying behind me like a cape. I look like a coked-up superhero.

Like said super-hero, I managed to drag my daughter away from the crime scene, kicking and screaming “Owie!!” at the top of her lungs (because my evil genius has discovered that when she acts like I am hurting her, people look.) In the middle of attempting to carry my screaming daughter – who has now moved into Meltdown Stage II, where she turns all of her bones into jelly, so I can’t possibly get a grip on her – and hastily explaining to a room full of strangers that I am not ACTUALLY hurting my child, my baby starts to wail. I can’t pick him up because I can’t calm my daughter down enough to risk letting go of her. So now I have two screaming kids, only two hands, zero hours of sleep, and no mental capacity to deal with any of it. So I start to cry. Bawl, actually. I was a snot-nosed, red-faced mess. Just like my toddler. It was probably the single most humiliating moment of my life.

And while this was going on, do you want to know what those other “perfect” moms, did?!

One helped me pack up and carry my bags, while I hauled my screaming toddler to the car. Another rocked and shushed my son until he stopped crying. Yet another buckled him into his car seat and carried him out to my car for me. None of them laughed at me, or judged me, or made me feel worse than I already did. All of them hugged me and told me they knew how I felt. How they had been there before. Yes, even perfect moms have dealt with toddler meltdowns and crying babies.  Apparently, even perfect moms can sometimes feel like terrible moms. Who knew?

And so, Moms, this is why you rock.

Because no matter who you are, or how much your stroller costs, you have been there before. And when push comes to shove, you are there for each other. And there for me too.

Now… if only my ego would allow me to go back to that coffee shop and thank them. I’m just not quite there yet.

Moms Rock

Moms Rock

 

photo credit: JohnCrider via photopin cc