Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Uncertainty Principle: When My Kids Crashed Senior Citizen Night

By Rachael
 
You never know what to expect when you’re raising small humans. Kids do unexpected things, and despite our best efforts, there are times when we just have to roll with whatever life throws at us. 


I was reminded of this when I recently brought my 3-year-old onstage with me during a musical performance.

It seemed like a good idea – or at least a so-so idea – at the time.

The other day my husband tried explaining the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle to me. To borrow a definition from Wikipedia: “No thing has a definite position, a definite trajectory, or a definite momentum. Trying to pin a thing down to one definite position will make its momentum less well pinned down, and vice-versa.”

To put it in parenting terms, my husband explained, we have no idea what our kids are going to do next. It’s also clear that the younger a child is, the greater the uncertainty. My oldest daughter is 7 years old. She’s at an age when we can gradually start trusting her more. She’s less likely to dash into the street or melt down at Target. My youngest daughter is 3. Anything goes with her.

My 3-year-old’s stage debut started when the small three-part harmony women’s group I sing with at church was invited to perform as part of a dinner for the church’s senior citizen members. My teacher husband was conducting parent-teacher conferences at his school that evening and couldn’t watch our daughters. We don’t have a large pool of babysitters we can summon on a whim, so I told my singing group leader I wouldn’t be able to make it.

My leader encouraged me to come and bring the kids along. It was a casual event, my girls could just hang out, and the older church members would enjoy seeing them. I liked the idea of spending the evening with other people at church instead of sitting at home while my husband worked, so I showed up with my girls.

There was a crowd of about 50 people, and our evening started with dinner in the church gym. It was a fish fry with church members contributing side dishes and desserts potluck style. A friend helped us through the food line, filling my youngest’s plate while I filled my oldest’s and my own. 


My daughters ate their fried catfish with copious amounts of ketchup. They requested second helpings of devilled eggs, unaware that at potlucks there are never devilled eggs left over once everyone has gone through the food line. They were happy to discover the little bite-sized cheesecake squares on the dessert table. They made repeated trips to the dessert table and scarfed about eight cheesecake squares between the two of them, including the one my youngest squished up in her fist.

Then it was time to go to the sanctuary for music. My women’s ensemble was the main entertainment, with a half dozen or so songs on the lineup. I settled my oldest daughter in a pew two or three rows from the front with a friend and knew she would be fine. 


I started feeling panicky about my 3-year-old as I watched the sanctuary fill with people and the reality of the situation dawned on me. I wished we could have hauled a few microphones down to the gym and performed there, where my girls could have played or roamed quietly on the sidelines and it wouldn’t have been a big deal. The sanctuary with its rows of formal pews and carpet, was a decidedly more serious venue and not preschooler-friendly.

I doubted my daughter would sit nicely next to her sister for 30 minutes, and I could see myself having to bound off stage to chase her down. A few people offered to let her sit with them, but she adamantly shook her head when I tried to pass her off to people she hardly knew. I also hesitated to ask anyone to look after her, knowing they might potentially need to leave the sanctuary and miss the music.

So she ended up on stage, where I instructed her to stand quietly next to me. Our group leader who serves as our pianist introduced us and referred to my daughter as “the newest member,” which elicited a few laughs from the crowd. We started singing our first song, and my daughter did her first unexpected act of the night. She apparently thought we were too loud and put her hands over her ears.  I could hardly sing the first page of “I’d Rather Have Jesus” while I tried to suppress my laughter. I felt my face turn pink with embarrassment and doubted the wisdom of bringing her onstage.

We plowed through the first few songs. At one point I whispered to my daughter to stop dancing with her tongue sticking out. For a while, I held her in one arm while I held my microphone with my other hand.

Eventually she went to sit at the top of the stairs leading down from the stage out into the sanctuary. She gradually moved down the stairs until she was lying stretched out on the bottom step. It looked uncouth, but at least she was only visible to people in the first row or two. 


She ended up walking down a side aisle out among the pews, where a regular Sunday children’s ministry worker took her by the hand and escorted her to the nursery to play. I gave a small thumb’s up from the stage to signal my thanks and approval.

One minute later, my 7-year-old got up from her pew and climbed onstage like it was no big deal since her sister had just been up there. She whispered in my ear, asking if it was okay to go to the nursery to play also. I nodded yes. With both of my children occupied and supervised, I concentrated fully on the last few songs in our program, and the quality of my vocals improved without the distractions.

I slipped out when we finished singing, while the older crowd was sharing prayer requests, and walked down the hall to the nursery where I thanked the person who was watching my girls. We put away the toys and both girls said they had to use the tiny preschooler-sized toilet in the adjoining bathroom. Then we headed home to put on jammies.

I walked out of church feeling grateful that we made it through the evening. My children behaved as well as kids can be expected to, but I was well aware that my youngest was a big distraction during the musical program. Their presence probably brightened the day for some people, and while we attend church with many nice people, I wondered if perhaps my daughters’ behavior inspired criticism about my parenting or lack of a babysitter. If so, everyone has been gracious enough not to say anything to me and allow the evening to fade into memory.

My husband found the story amusing when I talked to him later that night, prompting our discussion of the Uncertainty Principle. Life itself is uncertain, but more so with young children. They provide me with fun stories to retell and make our lives infinitely more interesting. Jesus famously said, “Let the little children come.” So it’s all good, right? 


Rachael is the managing editor for Mumbling Mommy. She is a former newspaper editor and a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University. When she’s not busy with her husband and two daughters, you’ll find her gardening, cooking, singing with ladies from church, or reading Charlotte Bronte novels. You can contact her by e-mailing Rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

First time here? Like Mumbling Mommy on Facebook to continue the conversation!     


While you're here, you may enjoy these posts: 

Date night: More than just a break from routine

The benefits of diverse school communities

Mom guilt and my daughter's first cavity

Friday, April 24, 2015

7 Ways Parenthood has Changed Me

By Katie --

My oldest daughter turns 7 today. That means that it's been just over 7 years since I was my pre-child self. Scientifically speaking, the cells in the human body completely regenerate every 7 years, meaning that I am a completely different person today than I was on April 23, 2008.
 
The Bible often cites 7 years when referring to rebirth and renewal, and Buddhists follow seven steps to enlightenment. There's just something about that number - 7 - that ushers in newness, freshness, a feeling of completion.  
 
Every parent's journey is different but here are 7 ways that I've changed since those first moments of mommyhood:



 

I like kids.

I was never really a "baby" person as a kid or teenager. I didn't dislike kids as a young adult, but I wasn't really impressed with them nor did I notice if they were cute. I really didn't care. Boy has that all changed. I absolutely love kids now -- my own, their friends, the offspring of friends, my nieces, my nephew, and strangers' babies that I see in line at the grocery store. And that didn't happen overnight. With each child that's been added to my life, I like the rest of the children of the world even more.

I'm better at my job.

Becoming a parent forced me to get my act together career-wise. I'm more organized, more goal-oriented, and more concerned with the quality of what I create since becoming a parent. It seems that parents get a bad rap for maxing out their sick time, or leaving the office early to take junior here or there but let's be honest: I took sick days and left early before I was a parent, and usually for pretty lame reasons (disclaimer: I'm not saying that childless people have lame reasons for needing time off work; I'm just speaking to my own pre-child reasons). The security of work (freelance/contract work in my case) is certainly part of what has elevated my work ethic but it's about more than that. I want my kids, my girls especially, to see me pursuing the things that make me happy and getting satisfaction from my talents.
  

I care about politics.

Social issues matter much more to me than they did 8 years ago because I care about the country/world that I'm handing to my kids. So I read up on the people on the ballots and keep tabs on those serving in office. And I never, ever miss a chance to vote.
 

I cry a lot more.

Sometimes just thinking about my favorite Publix Christmas commercials starts my sniffling. If a kid brings home a handwritten Mother's Day card that they made in school, forget about it. I'm a blubbering fool the rest of the day. Even the mundane details get to me sometimes. I came back from a run last week and stood outside for a few minutes, trying to catch my breath. I could hear the cacophony that was my family just beyond the front door. Older kids jabbering. Toddler laughing. Baby blowing raspberries. My husband asking someone to pick up something off the floor. The TV playing the "Paw Patrol" theme song. All of those little, intricate details of my family - MY kids - suddenly overwhelmed me and catching my breath turned into drying my tears before I went back inside.


I stand up for myself.

Parenting brings a heightened awareness of right and wrong. There is certainly a sense of "the world isn't fair" that comes with it, but after you've grown, delivered and nurtured human life, I guess you could say you end up with a chip on your shoulder. You think you know a thing or two about the world. That confidence, for me, has translated into a higher opinion of myself and what I'm worth as a mother, a woman, a friend, a worker, and a human being. I don't go out of my way to seek out confrontation but I don't get pushed around either. What I think, feel, believe and do matter and not just because I have kids who depend on me. Being a parent has shown me that I always mattered more than I believed I did. And I won't be swayed otherwise.

I'm less stressed.

I'm not saying that every moment is Zen around here and it can certainly get chaotic balancing the responsibilities of parenting, marriage, friendship, work and more. In general though I have a "bigger picture" view on life than I did in my pre-kid days. The minor stresses in a day are just that: minor. I often ask myself - will this thing I'm worried about matter in five years? In five minutes? Only the things that get a resounding "yes" are the ones to be concerned with on purely an anxiety scale. The rest don't deserve that nervous energy.
 

 

I'm all out of F*#%s. 

I don't care what people think of me anymore. I used to try, even as a parent, but after awhile the sheer energy that goes into actually sustaining human life and fostering an environment conducive to the survival of the species just zaps all the self-consciousness right out of you. I may not parent the same way that you do, but I'm a great one. So are you, by the way. We are learning through SAFE trial and error and let's face it, neither of our kids are angels. So I don't care if you subscribe to a routine-based schedule, or child-led weaning, or are raising your children in a particular faith, or let your toddler eat cheese sticks and Lucky Charms for every meal because it is literally all that he will eat. Good for you. To ALL of it.
 

Today I'm busy getting three kids ready for school, keeping two others happy between finishing weekly work duties, getting ready for a road race I'm co-directing with my husband tonight, getting three of my kids ready to run that race, getting the house/dinner ready for a babysitter who will be with the others, running 6 different errands, making 10 different phone calls, squeezing in a three mile run myself, planning a birthday dinner for the weekend and getting my house ready for visitors who arrive tomorrow (did I mention I'm writing this at 4:17 a.m.?). If you want to put your six-month-old in a swing/car seat/Bumbo chair for five minutes so you can make lunch for yourself, I say go for it. If you want to lay with your preschooler at naptime because she won't fall asleep otherwise and you really need that hour alone, do that too. If your three year old is still using a pacifier, or wearing diapers - guess what? He can't keep that up forever. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks. Do your best day by day. Heck, do your best moment by moment because it is all of those little moments added up that really count.

What big changes have happened to you since becoming a parent?

Katie Parsons is a mom of five who also writes for websites and publications worldwide. Before she was a freelance writer, she worked in news media in Chicago, Orlando and Shelbyville, Indiana. Before that, she earned a Creative Writing degree from Ball State University. Katie is writing a memoir about the time when she was single and pregnant.

First time here? Like Mumbling Mommy on Facebook to continue the conversation!  




You may also enjoy these posts:


5 lessons in 5 years as a mom

3 things my daughters have taught me

Pregnant with a breast lump

How to deal with pregnancy stress

New baby: The siblings who didn't care

 

Monday, April 20, 2015

5 Things Never to Say to a New Mom

By Lori --

Ahhhh. You just arrived home with your new bundle of joy. You're elated. Whether it's your first or fifth, there is nothing quite like the amazement associated with meeting the baby who grew inside of you for nearly ten months. There's also nothing that can prepare you for the overwhelming exhaustion and rush of hormones and emotions that come along with it all.

Photo credit: Alexis Smith
Photography. Holding my new
baby girl with my post-baby
belly on full display.
As my "baby" nears her third birthday, my husband and I have been asking ourselves: Do we think we can do this one more time? Would we like to have a third child?

As I reflect on everything that comes along with pregnancy (which I loved) and those first few months with a newborn/infant, it brings me back to all of the things people said that frustrated me! Here are five things never to say to a new mom:

The baby looks just like "xyz."

If someone says the baby looks just like anyone but me, or that the baby has zero resemblance to me, I feel a little frustrated. I realize (in our case) both of our children do favor my husband and that's fine. I obviously think he is cute, so I think our children are cute, too. But it is nice to feel like maybe, just maybe, the baby has a little bit of "me" in him or her.

You'll lose that baby weight soon.

Are you insinuating I should be concerned with the way I look? In fact, I did JUST have a baby. It took some time to gain the weight, so it'll take some time to get back to my (new) normal - and that's okay. My stomach does indeed resemble a deflated bouncy ball and I am feeling the "f" word (fat), thankyouverymuch. However, I know my body will never look the same again. Maybe in a few months, I'll seek some ways to lose the baby weight. But the fact that I gained it is something I came to terms with prior to getting pregnant.

Get ready for a lot of sleepless nights! My baby didn't sleep through the night until he was over a year!

I know - I realize that, and yes, I am currently suffering from and looking for ways to beat new mom fatigue. While I realize your "warning" maybe isn't meant to come off the way it did, I am going to hope for the best and always remember that my baby will sleep through the night eventually!

Sleep when the baby sleeps.

My first baby boy, just a day
old in the hospital. Boy, was
he worth it all! 
Right, that is a good plan. However, someone needs to cook/clean/pay the bills and so on. Plus, the second time around, this plan is void. You can't just nap when your newborn naps if you have a toddler at home ... unless you aren't worried about waking up to an empty cookie jar, marker on the walls and a clogged toilet (hopefully you didn't really like that new watch anyway!).

Well, was it all worth it?
Of course it was! Look at this angel. Besides, who would ever actually say "No, it really wasn't. Is there a return policy for this child?"

While the likelihood of a third child in our family is still a toss up, I love my memories of pregnancy, meeting our new babies, and getting to introduce them to our friends and family. I even liked most of the advice we were given, even when it was unsolicited or from strangers. Our children were (and still are) very loved babies and I know (nearly) everyone means well.

What annoying (or funny!) things did people say to you after you had a baby?

Lori is a work-at-home mom living in Noblesville, a suburb of Indianapolis. She is mom to two children ages 4 and 2 and enjoys watching them grow. Lori also enjoys taking walks, shopping, spending time with her husband, reading, decorating, photography, and traveling. Leave her a comment below or email her at mumblingmommy@mumblingmommy.com


 
While you are here, you may enjoy the following posts:



Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dear Fibromyalgia, I Won! A Look at My Half Marathon Results


Three months ago, I wrote about chasing after my dreams even though I have fibromyalgia. For 14 weeks, I have put in over 50 hours of training, burnt an extra 20,000 calories, completed over 80 workouts, and run over 200 miles. So on April 12, 2015, as I woke up to my alarm at 4 a.m., showered, dressed, and double checked my gear, I was ready.

The race began at 7 a.m. sharp. Over 10,000 runners of all fitness levels joined me. The course was incredible. We crossed the Mississippi River twice, ran in two different states and passed by a handful of St. Louis’ best tourist attractions. The weather was overcast, with even a few rain sprinkles, too. The temperature was in the low to high 50s as the hours passed, with virtually no humidity. We couldn't have asked for better conditions. 

The mood was electric. I sunk into a good groove and I just went for it. When I was 5k into my race, I was blowing away my personal record. I knew I needed to slow down if I was ever going to last till the end, but my body felt good. When I was 10k into the race, I was still racing a personal record. I couldn't believe it. I was halfway done and running nearly a minute per mile faster than I’d been doing during training. Around mile 9, the hurt started to settle in. I zoned out. My quads were cramping. My toes were throbbing. My sides ached, but I just kept talking myself through it. 

Post run with my biggest support
I finished the race, completely in tears of happiness, sobbing actually to the point where I couldn't breathe. I wrapped myself in a Mylar blanket, downed a bottle of water, and clung tight to my husband, who had finished his own first half marathon 25 minutes before me after conquering his own workout asthma. I finished the race with a pace just 1 second per mile slower than my all-time fastest time (which was previously a short 3-mile run) and nearly 30 seconds faster per mile than my average during long-run training. I wanted to chase my dreams and it turns out, I was way out front. I wasn't chasing anything. I was strong. I was winning!

I knew going into this race that my days of long runs were numbered. My body was hurting. The extreme influx of cortisol levels from my training was throwing off my hormone balance, further messing up many other vital functions for a healthy body. My rule all along was to listen to my body. I pushed myself further than I ever thought I could go, but I knew why. 

It’s time for me to move on to other goals and dreams, too. Am I still a runner? Absolutely. I will always be a runner. I don’t have to run half marathons to prove that. I started running to burn off the crazy and I’ll continue to do so, but it’s time to make room for other things, too.

So what’s next for this mom? Chasing down more dreams, of course! In May, I will complete a 31-day challenge of daily yoga. In August, I will compete in a summer biathlon of running and biking. And after all of that? Don’t worry. I have big dreams. I want to hike the Appalachian Trail. I want to climb Mt. Shasta. I want to tour the gardens of France by bicycle. I want to kayak in Alaska. I want to LIVE.

I don’t conquer dreams to be an inspiration. I don’t even share my story to be an inspiration. But I do dream. And I think everyone should dream, no matter what obstacles are in front of them.

Heather C. owns and writes for the blog Our Magical Chaos. She uses the lessons her kids teach her to take each day at a time and embrace the twists life throws at her. Being a parent is what she knows best. Our Magical Chaos features stories, product reviews, and tips for parents just trying to make it through. You can see more from Heather on Twitter. Heather is also a freelance writer and runner. She specializes in parenting girls, all things twins, and keeping her family happy.

First time here? Like Mumbling Mommy on Facebook to continue the conversation.

While you are here, you might also enjoy these posts:



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Chronicles of a Theatre Mom: Sharing Performing Arts with a New Generation


By Rachael

I was initially a reluctant actress. I spent my childhood singing in my church’s children’s choir, and I was content to participate within the safe, anonymous confines of the group. I never wanted solos or speaking parts in the musicals we performed.

When I attended a small private school in sixth grade, I was assigned a large speaking role in a skit that was part of the school’s Christmas program. My character made a long speech at the end, reflecting on how Christmas is about more than spending money. 


I took one look at that chunky paragraph I was supposed to recite and said, “I don’t want this.” 

“You’re doing it anyway,” my teacher said.

Forced into my acting debut, I actually ended up enjoying the experience. I liked the buzz I got from standing in front of an audience and nailing my part. I liked pretending to be someone different from myself. I enjoyed watching many people come together to pool their talents and produce a show that was much bigger than any one of us individually.  


Theatre had addictive qualities for me.

I soon landed a role as a child extra in a local high school production of The Wizard of Oz. I spent years in a community theatre youth program, performing in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever as the narrator Beth, and in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town as Rebecca, the male lead’s kid sister. Typecasting is real; I was frequently cast in child roles.

In college, I loved all the opportunities to participate in performing arts. I was in the chorus in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, participated in an improv team, played a role in a haunting student-directed play about the Holocaust, and operated the spotlight for Godspell. If I wasn’t onstage, I helped with other productions as a stagehand or with costumes or ushering. 


My college's production of "I Never Saw Another Butterfly." (I'm on the far right.)

Passing Along the Performing Arts Bug

When my daughters came along years later, I wanted to instill in them an appreciation for performing arts. I started showing them movies of musicals that are popular to perform onstage. They love Annie, The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, Rodgers and Hammersteins’ Cinderella, and the parts of The Sound of Music that feature the kids.

Last December when NBC broadcast Peter Pan Live, the girls were obsessed. My 3-year-old calls it Peter Pan Alive. We bought the DVD and soundtrack for Christmas.

My 7-year-old, Megan, is particularly interested in watching the special feature on the Peter Pan Live DVD that documents how they made the show – featuring footage from auditions, showing cast members learning dance numbers, showing how actors know where to stand because of tape placed on the floor, and showing Peter learning to fly with wires.

Megan told me she wanted to do theatre. I searched online for children’s theatre workshops or programs near our St. Louis suburb. They exist, but like the community theatre youth program I participated in as a teen, many come with enrollment fees of several hundred dollars.

So it was providential when my husband, a high school social studies teacher, came home in January announcing his school’s spring production was going to be Beauty and the Beast. He chatted briefly one day with the theatre teacher who is directing the show, mentioning he planned to bring his oldest daughter to see it.

“How old is she?” the teacher asked.

“Seven,” my husband said.

“Does she want to be in it?” the teacher asked.

Josh said he had to check with me first.

“It’ll involve a few Saturday practices,” he told me.

“Yes!” I said.

“And there will be rehearsals almost every evening during tech week.”

“YES! Tell the director YES!” I repeated.

Megan and a couple of other children were offered roles as extras in a few songs in the show. Her introduction to live theatre was free, minus a few simple costume pieces I had to purchase like black shoes and a black shirt. It is low-pressure because she will be singing and dancing with a group and not alone. It is an ideal beginner’s experience.

I felt slightly giddy when I brought her to the first rehearsal. When the cast walked onstage to rehearse the opening song, “Belle,” I snapped a photo of Megan standing there, with stage lights creating a shining kaleidoscopic effect in the background. It’s one of my favorite photos. 


My college improv group (I'm front row, third from left). Whose line is it, anyway?

From Thespian to Theatre Mom


Life moves along. We grow older and our roles shift. I haven’t participated in a real stage production in more than a decade. Now my daughter is onstage. And for the time being, I’m a Theatre Mom.

The kids are in the midst of tech rehearsals, getting ready to perform before an audience soon. As a mom, I’ve spent time watching them rehearse onstage as I sit in the dark theatre. I’ve helped the younger kids with costume changes. I sit with my daughter during down times backstage to help her complete her homework.

One of my favorite things to do during tech week is sit and listen to the student orchestra perform the prelude, just before the cast does a full run of the show. I can sense the anticipation, knowing the entire cast is bustling like a beehive backstage behind that big curtain. I also notice how all theatres have the same familiar smell – a combination of sweet-scented sawdust and slightly dusty velvet curtains.

The other night, I stood in the theatre teacher’s classroom where Megan and the other younger cast members wait during the show until it’s their time to go onstage. They watch movies, color, chat, or work on homework until a teen arrives to tell them it’s time to go perform, and then they slip quietly into the wings backstage to await their cue.

As they walked out the classroom door, I called out, “Break a leg!”

One of the little girls dramatically dropped to the floor and pretended her leg was hurt.

“She said ‘Break a leg,’” the girl giggled as she addressed a peer, unaware of the meaning of the classic expression.

I don’t know whether Megan will take to live theatre like I did. I don’t want to be the kind of parent who pushes my children into activities to relive my youth, but so far she is having a blast. I’m happy to have someone to share the experience with, and when the curtain parts on opening night, I do hope she (figuratively!) breaks a leg. 


Do any of your children have an interest in something you enjoyed in your younger days?

Rachael is the managing editor for Mumbling Mommy. She is a former newspaper editor and a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University. When she’s not busy with her husband and two daughters, you’ll find her gardening, cooking, singing with ladies from church, or reading Charlotte Bronte novels. You can contact her by e-mailing Rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

First time here? Like Mumbling Mommy on Facebook to continue the conversation! 
 

While you're here, you may enjoy these posts: 

Three musicals to watch with your kids

Piano sabbatical: Hobbies parents set aside when kids come along

Everything changes: Sending my firstborn to kindergarten

The Real Reasons We Don't Breastfeed




By Katie --

It's 8 p.m. on a Saturday night. In my dark bedroom my phone silently lights up with a text message from my friend Koren.

"We are headed to dinner now. See you there?"

About 45 minutes ago I ducked out early from a girls' night out with her and another friend so I could run home and quickly nurse my three-month-old baby who was having a hard time eating/falling asleep/keeping her shit together with my husband.

"I'll meet you at dinner," I called over my shoulder as I paid for my pottery project and rushed home. Now approaching an hour later, it was clear that my little darling was in for the long haul - stuck in that half-asleep/half-awake phase of dream nursing. There would be no Mexican food for me. I was going to be here for awhile.

As I silently texted Koren back with my regrets, I could feel the tears welling up. Maybe it sounded shallow, and selfish, but the thought of getting to go out and paint pottery and binge on chips and salsa was the only thing that had kept me going that week. I was tired. I was back to work full time, spending every waking non-nursing hour trying to catch up on the clients I needed to make happy so I could pay my medical bills. A few of my older kids were having a rough week behavior-wise and my husband had gone into the office more than usual. I felt completely pushed to my breaking point - physically, emotionally. I needed that extra hour of girlfriend time, alone, and let's be honest: I needed a burrito. The weight of my warm baby suddenly felt suffocating, trapping me inside the awesomeness of my own body.


"Maybe it's time to wean her," I texted my husband, who was in another room.

"Sure. If you're ready, you should." he responded.

So typical. Giving me an out, when he knows I'm not actually going to take it. Sometimes I think it would be better if he just guilted me into continuing to breastfeed. Then I could blame him and move on. Instead, the decision lies with me and I'm too tired, too worn out to really make a change at this point.


This is the third baby I've breastfed and I know that I could stop at any point and she would be just fine. At three months, she is older by a month than my first one was when I stopped nursing and she is younger by 10 months than my second, who clung to my breast until she turned one and then quickly lost interest. No one would blame me, I reason. A lump in my right breast from pregnancy has caused that side to stop producing milk (or never really start), and my one milk-producing side is broken out in a nasty bout of dermatitis/eczema from a six-mile race I ran the week before. When my daughter latches on, the pain of one-thousand tiny daggers penetrate the entire left side of my body, causing my legs to kick and the rest of my body to squirm in pain. She's starting to take breaks when nursing, too, so latching on is happening a few times each session.

I can't even stand to look at myself in the mirror because the lopsidedness freaks me out and I try not to take my shirt off in front of my husband unless its dark. The few times he's caught me changing for a run, pressing my DD uber-boob into my sports bra while the A-cup side slides in with no issue, he's commented on how great I look. Ugh. Typical.

In between texts to Koren and my husband, I pull up Amazon on my smartphone and search for "baby's first sippy cup." I find one that worked with my oldest daughter. One click, and it's mine, with free two-day shipping. I feel relieved.


When I finally lay the baby down that night, she sleeps through until the morning. I get a lot of rest as a result. When I pick her up from her sun-soaked crib, she smiles at me before she nuzzles in to feed. I smile back and pull her closer to me. This isn't so bad, I think. I barely had to get out of bed to grab her and 30 seconds later I'm back under my covers, with this warm lump pressed against me and my half-asleep husband reaching out to rub my arm. Even my red, scaly skin doesn't seem as painful as she suckles. Everything, it seems, really does look different in the light of day.


She ends up falling back to sleep and I have a few hours baby-free to spend with my older kids, making them scrambled eggs for breakfast and listening to every story about every first-grader that my oldest daughter has been saving up for me from the last week. Dalton got new glasses. Elaina lost two teeth (TWO TEETH, MOM!) and Mrs. Lukens has a new barn cat name Gray. My toddler focuses most of her attention on the eggs in front of her, quietly humming her ABCs. I make an egg burrito for myself, taking the time to slice fresh tomatoes and avocado for it. As I eat it without interruption, listening to my daughters talk to each other, it tastes like clocking out before a two-week vacation feels. Ahhhhhhh.....

That night my stepkids will come back from their mom's and we will all have Sunday dinner together before starting the work and school week. They always miss their sisters when they are gone, and my stepdaughter sometimes cries if too many days pass when she hasn't seen the baby. It will be nice to have them back, I remark to my husband who seems to overthink my statement, likely wondering internally if this is some sort of test from me. His look makes me realize I've been cranky lately -- like, for a year -- and I give him an unsolicited hug. I feel my misshapen boobs press into him and I press harder. He pulls me in even tighter than that. Out of the corner of my eye, I spy our toddler watching us and smiling.


As anyone who's tried it knows, breastfeeding is difficult. The physical side is tough. There is not much that is as uncomfortable as the initial engorgement and pain in the first few days and the contraction-like cramps that take place every time baby latches on. For the next few weeks, you get to wake up in a pool of breast milk until your supply finally stabilizes. If you've known the pain of mastitis, you're my hero. The breast stretch marks that come with the much larger, then much smaller, milk makers are real and unsightly.

Perhaps even more difficult than the physical, though, is the mental toll that breastfeeding takes on mothers, particularly in the United States. Think about it: as young women, we are told to develop our individuality and to be independent. We are encouraged to seek out career paths that make us beings all unto our own and to find our self worth in what we, and we alone, can accomplish. Even in marriage, we hear the message to never lose our individuality and to cling to those parts of ourselves that make us truly unique.  Then we have a baby and it seems that everything we've ever been told about being a woman is flipped on its head. The "breast is best" mantra. Babywearing. Attachment parenting. All of these completely natural tendencies run contrary to what we've always been told about ourselves and our existence as autonomous humans.

Never lose yourself.

Except, you know, when you have a baby and your body does what's natural to feed it. Then you should excuse yourself from dinner to feed that baby in a bathroom stall. The other grown adults at the table, after all, shouldn't have to see that.



Throw in the exclusively American idea that women should bounce back quickly (their bodies, especially) after giving birth and the idea of leaky breasts beyond the first few weeks seems downright archaic.

The formula companies take a lot of flack for the reasons behind why the majority of moms in the U.S. aren't breastfeeding by the bare-minimum recommended length of six months. I think that blame is misplaced, though. Formula companies are only filling a demand that is based on societal norms. I'm sorry but not EVERY person who formula feeds does it because her "milk didn't come in." So why do we, as women, feel like we need to use that excuse? What's wrong with just saying "breastfeeding wasn't for me?"

I know the answer to that though and its a double-edged sword. Women are expected to endure the mental and physical strain that often accompanies breastfeeding but are treated like second-class citizens in the process. The burden of feeding "appropriately" and in a way that masks-but-fools-no-one falls on the already tired, already starving nursing mother. Breastfeeding moms are often on the defensive, instead of being praised. Just because something is natural does not make it easy yet I've heard the argument that breastfeeding is somehow selfish. That confuses me. What part of handing your body completely over to another being who then lets you know what to do with your body, and when, is based on self-centeredness? For me the most selfish thing I do for myself these days is go to the grocery store alone, and shop quickly, so I can get back to my nursling and older siblings.


I also think that there is a misconception that all nursing moms are "breastfeeding Nazis" who judge formula feeders. That group of moms DOES exist but there is an entirely separate group of us who waffle somewhere in between, often jealous of the freedom that the formula feeders experience and living in full support of that decision. A friend of mine recently apologetically told me about quitting breastfeeding early on when she experienced headaches, depression and resentment towards her husband.

"Good for you!" I said - and I MEANT IT.

I'm still nursing my youngest but not married to the idea of doing it for as long as humanly possible. In many ways I will be relieved when I'm able to have my own body back and know that it is mine for good this time. I don't yet know when that day will be but I'm going to listen to the cues of my body, and follow the lead of my baby, when making that determination. I won't be guilted into one way or another, knowing full well that no matter what choice I make and when will be the right one for me -- and my baby too.


Katie Parsons is a mom of five who also writes for websites and publications worldwide. Before she was a freelance writer, she worked in news media in Chicago, Orlando and Shelbyville, Indiana. Before that, she earned a Creative Writing degree from Ball State University. Katie is writing a memoir about the time when she was single and pregnant.

First time here? Like Mumbling Mommy on Facebook to continue the conversation!  




You may also enjoy these posts:


Breastfeeding twins -- Yes, it's possible

Skinny babies are cute too


New moms need support to breastfeed

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Making Memories: What I'll Miss When My Kids Are Bigger

By Lori --

Days at home with toddlers are a lot of fun and can be a total whirlwind! I have been home with my kids (working a couple part time jobs) since my second child was born and my oldest was only 19 months old. These last two, almost three, years have been a period of adjustment for me. I never thought I would be able to be home with them, and it’s been a dream come true. Child care costs made quitting corporate America an easy decision, and luckily I wanted to be home with my babies! 

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of the many ways my kids make me laugh, and the cute and funny things they do and say -- things that I want to remember forever. Here are just a handful of things I will miss when my kids are bigger:

The way my kisses make their booboos -- including the non-existent ones -- better instantly.

The sound of my children’s laughter! I love when they are laughing so hard, especially when it’s because of something that I did! I wish I could keep that magnificent sound in a jar!

The way my kids are so proud if they sleep ALL night in their beds -- and they have to shout out their accomplishment the next morning.

The way my son says, “Anybody home?” when he hops out of bed and walks out of his bedroom each morning.

I love the gusto behind my kids' greeting when I arrive home from being gone. They jump, squeal with laughter, and smother me with hugs and kisses – even if I’ve only been to the grocery store. Talk about making me feel loved!

The way their eyes light up when I ask them if they want to go to the park!

All of the adorable things they say: my daughter asks me for “toot snaps” which are really fruit snacks. She still doesn’t believe that “Winnie the Pooh” is that bear's real name (she thinks I am kidding with the word “poo”). My son used to ask for “Rice Christmas Trees” instead of “rice crispy treats.” My daughter calls any swing set a “playground.” For example, we have a swing set boxed in our garage that we are getting ready to assemble. She told me she “can’t wait to have a playground in our backyard.”

My kids posing for a
quick picture before
going to the park!
The never-ending presence of Toy Story. My son is OBSESSED with Toy Story. He’s practically a real, live Andy. He loves all the movies, has toy versions of all of the toys. He even carries Woody around on his shoulders like Andy does in the opening scene in Toy Story 1.

Spending so much time with them! I will be the first to admit my patience is tested on a daily basis. However, I have absolutely loved being with them during these first years of their lives! Someday when they are in school full-time, I know the very memories we are making every single day at the playground, the zoo and here in our home playing games and hide and seek will be ones that I look back on and remember with a smile (and a tear!).

Their hugs and sweet kisses! I love when my kids come at me with their arms outstretched, eager to snuggle up to me and bury their faces in my neck. I love wrapping them in my arms and, for an instant, feeling like I can protect them from this crazy world.

Seeing them learn something new. It's the role of parents to support our children and help them learn new things. We as parents will always get to experience this since kids never stop learning, but I do think there is something really special about watching little ones take their first steps, learn how to sing their ABC’s and figure out how to jump and dance and skip. Seeing their little eyes grow wide and hearing them say, “I did it!” makes my heart so happy.

The old saying is so true: The days are long but the years are short. As my daughter is less than a month from turning three and my son just a few months from turning five, I am realizing this holds true more and more with each passing minute. I’m making sure I focus on truly enjoying each and every day and viewing it as a gift. Our kids are always our kids, but they are only this small for such a short period of time. I want to live in the moment and not let these days slip away!


What will you miss the most about having little ones at home? What do your kids do or say that you will cherish?

Lori is a work-at-home mom living in Noblesville, a suburb of Indianapolis. She is mom to two children ages 4 and 2 and enjoys watching them grow. Lori also enjoys taking walks, shopping, spending time with her husband, reading, decorating, photography, and traveling. Leave her a comment below or email her at mumblingmommy@mumblingmommy.com


 
While you are here, you may enjoy the following posts:



Copyright 2014 Mumbling Mommy - All Rights Reserved - Design by RL Web Designs