Things We Should Do

A letter to myself to read in times of struggle

Dear Miranda,

If you’re reading this, it means that this has not been your finest day or week as a mother.

Your children probably haven’t slept. No amount of concealer can adequately cover the bags under your eyes. All of you are tired. You and Dan find yourselves snapping at each other over silly things thanks to the lack of sleep in your lives.

Showering every other day seems to have become your new normal and four-day hair is your friend. Getting dressed every day is more about function than form. And if Emmas still an infant there’s a good chance that something you’re wearing reeks of dried spit-up. If she’s older, well, there’s probably some disgusting bodily fluid that doesn’t belong to you crushed somewhere.

You’ve probably used your angry voice. You know the one where your teeth don’t separate when you speak? That one. Your words were probably harsh. Harsher than you intended.

Your children have probably cried and as a result, you probably have, too.

You have no doubt been worn thin meeting the demands of the two small people entrusted to your care.

The days may have been long. They may have seemed never ending.

But you persevered. And you survived them. You all did. Even when you thought you wouldn’t.

And those long days? They aren’t forever.

In your Mama Heart, you know just how quickly time passes. That children grow too swiftly. That you will long for the quiet moments with one or both of them snuggled on your lap. You will ache for the feeling of their tiny hands in yours. You will wish you could read them just one more story, tuck them in one more time.

In your Mama Heart you know those days are just choppy waves in the giant sea of motherhood.

Your children? They’ve thrived in spite of all that you have perceived as a failure.

times of struggle

They are thriving.

You have not failed them.

You are not a failure.

Be more kind to yourself. Forgive yourself for what you see to fault. Give yourself grace for the days when you feel less-than.

Look at these children whose lives have enriched your own and let your heart be happy. They love you when you cannot love yourself. Even with four-day hair.

Love,

Me…

My Things

Emma, 5 months

So, Emma turned 5 months old on Sunday. I had to paint her onesie that morning while Joshua sang Secret Agent Oso songs to himself over the monitor and I’m three days late in posting this update. It sucks to be the second child, apparently.

5 MonthsEmma 5 Months

The details:

  • No teeth. Lots of cranky. So, my boobs are still safe for now.
  • Speaking of boobs were still going strong in the nursing department, which is huge for me because by this point I was a dairy-free dairy cow milking myself with a Medela six times a day for Joshua.
  • I gave Emma tastes of a banana and a peach. To say she liked them both is an understatement since she tried to grab both of them from my hands to gum them to death.
  • Sleep is well, it’s a topic receiving much of my focus these days. Thanks to Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep and a whole lot of Googling, were working on it. (Not an affiliate link.)
  • She gets into crawl position regularly and then gets really, really pissed off at the world when she can’t move. I’m not sure there’s enough wine in the world to help me stay sane when she starts crawling and I have two kids moving in opposite directions.
  • If I put her into sitting position, she’ll stay that way for about 3 seconds before falling over, preferring to move around in circles on her belly.
  • She’s found her hands. She’s been chewing on her hands for a while, so she knew they were there. But recently she’s doing that baby on a trip thing where she stares at them like they contain the secrets of the Universe. And maybe they do.
  • She is not a fan of the bouncy seat or the Bumbo but will tolerate the Exersaucer long enough for me to grab a shower and get dressed.
  • She laughs. Like, legitimate laughter when I tickle her or when Joshua plays with her. It’s not quite belly-laugh status, but its laughter. And it’s adorable.
  • I think I’ve maybe finally won the car seat battle. Unless she’s sleepy and then all bets are off.
My Things

May His Memory Be Eternal

It was my second Mothers Day. After putting Joshua to bed, I checked my phone and saw a message that changed my life.

Have you heard about __________?

No, no I hadn’t heard the news. So I did what any teacher does.

I looked him up on Facebook.

The posts on his wall painted the picture of what had happened, but I urged myself to believe it wasn’t true. It couldn’t be true.

Not him.

Surely, he hadn’t been successful. He was in the hospital somewhere and would be okay and his friends didn’t know, right?

Later, the same coworker called to tell me what I dreaded in my heart.

My student had taken his life that morning.

It was all so confusing.

He was so full of life and personality.

People loved him.

He seemed happy.

May His Memory Be Eternal

Having suffered from depression myself, how did I miss that he was hurting?

We laid him to rest in a ceremony that was beautiful and heartbreaking. We celebrated his life while mourning his death.

I despised the way his suicide was handled at our school. Instead of talking about it, some people went about their business as if he’d never been there at all. But not me. I vowed to be a voice.

There will always be a desk in my classroom for him.

There will always be a place in my heart for him.

May his memory be eternal.

Too many people each year are affected by suicide.

Too many people suffer and think that no one is listening.

Today is Suicide Prevention Day.

Kids Memory

Help spread the word.

If you or someone you know is hurting, there is hope.

Because no one should have to go this fight alone.…

Things We Should Do

Sleep is a thing people still do, right?

The Universe is a crotchety little turd sometimes, yall. See, I thought I had a good baby in Emma. A baby who sleeps. Anywhere! Anytime! Swaddled! Unswaddled! White noise! No white noise! SLEEP!

And then the 4 months wakeful and this newfound love of go-go-going happened and things just haven’t been right since.

Emma MUST KNOW ALL THE THINGS all the time. And I love her curiosity and how exploratory she is. But she’s incredibly overtired as a result of all this knowing and growing she’s doing and the fact that I can’t get her to sleep regularly is helping the fall upon my head.

To say it’s causing me a great deal of stress is an understatement. Because it’s causing me a great great great deal of stress and sleeplessness. I am not very pretty when I don’t get sleep. Or nice. Or patient. Or any of the things being a mother requires of me 25 hours a day.

Friday, I was a complete zombie when Dan got home. Did he keep saying Whats wrong? And I kept muttering So sleepy and just sort of flopped around the house all sadsack-like.

Saturday, Emma barely napped despite our best efforts to make that happen. Sunday was more of the same. I tried to drink a glass of wine and have myself a good old cry about my baby and how she won’t sleep and I was too tired to even produce tears. Last night she was up every hour from 11 to 6:30.

Sleep is a thing people still do, right?

We’ve got a host of issues happening right now and I’m not sure what to tackle first.

For starters, she’s getting too strong to swaddle. Then there’s the issue of auto-flipping to her hands and knees and completely losing her mind. Because she can flip over, and does, with gusto, it’s really time to start losing the swaddle. Because she’s up on hands and knees were nearing the point where she needs to be in her crib instead of her cosleeper. (Which means I’m going to lose my lovely side-lying nursing, which blows and is a whole other topic for discussion.)

Here’s where momming two is hard. Just like I’ve said before. I never know whose needs come first. When both of their needs are physical, who gets dibs?

This weekend and the issue I run into more often than not throughout the week is that Joshua needs activity. Emma needs sleep. They need these things at the same time.

I can tell him well do whatever it is we’re going to do when Emma wakes up but he has to be quiet while she naps. Either he doesn’t understand the concept of the inside voice and being quiet or he’s a pre-sociopath and just doesn’t care.

And then there’s the issue of her bedtime. If I can get her swaddled and start nursing her at 6:30, I have the best luck of having a decent nights sleep. Except it’s a crapshoot as to whether or not Dan will be home from work by 6:30 and Joshua won’t stay in the living room while I’m nursing her and needs to eat dinner then and there’s the issue of feeding the adults in the house and it’s like everything happens at 6:30.

Sleep is a thing people still do, right? Pic 2

So, words of wisdom, please? HOW do I DO this?

Or better yet, one of yall just come do this for me and Ill check into the HoJo for a rest and a continental breakfast.…

Following

Tweets I didnt send

I’m quite prolific over on Twitter. Sending a tweet is a quick way to connect with people, muse out loud and purge my head of random clutter, e-scream to the Universe that my kids STILL ARENT NAPPING. Whatever.

But sometimes I sit down to my computer or pen Tweetdeck on my phone and start to type a tweet and then realize it’s lame/gross/untweetable/requires explanation and I don’t send it.

Thus, Tweets I didn’t send.

Tweets I didnt send

Tweet #1:

Postpartum hair loss is for the birds. Im molting! Molting! #BirdJoke

Somehow, I felt that tweeting the above, while there would be those who would understand my plight, was maybe a waste of characters? An insult to birds? I don’t know. But I didn’t send it.

I lose so much hair every time I lather, rinse, and repeat that it’s a complete miracle to me that I still have hair in my head at all. So much hair is in the fact that I almost took a picture of one of the hairballs and made an entire blog post about I but quickly realized that 1) that was borderline disgusting and 2) yall would unfollow me en masse. So, you’re welcome?

(But seriously? Enough with the hair loss. So. tired. of. it.)

Tweet #2:

Both of my kids are sleeping! Its Mommy Christmas come early!

Anytime I have every publicly bragged about sleep, the Universe has blown the good sleeping up in my face. So as a rule, I’m just not tweeting about it when either of my kids sleeps well. I do, however, reserve the right to use up every avenue of social media to complain when they aren’t sleeping.

Additionally, having the two of them sleep at the same time almost never happens, so there’s nothing to tweet. The above is merely the stuff dreams are made of.

Tweet #3:

You know youre on day four hair when you start to shampoo and theres no lather.  #DryShampooFTW

Now I’m not saying that Tweet #1 and Tweet #3 are related. But they’re probably related. My hair is in a topknot of some sort more days than not and I’m struggling to find time to shower every day. So if I do find time to shower, I’m always gambling on whether or not there’s time to wash my hair too. And a lot of the time I feel like there’s, not time so I don’t wash and then when I eventually wash it’s so dirty I have to wash twice and there’s so much hair I could make a wig. Maybe a doll wig. But a wig.

Yay! Don’t you all want to hug me right now so you can be close to my maybe clean hair?

Tweet #4:

Do you have any idea how hard it is to squirt breastmilk into your babys eye? Freaking hard.

Fun fact: breastmilk is the great cure-all. Is baby got a stuffy nose? Squirt some milk up there. Is baby got a scratch? Put some milk on it. Is baby got a clogged tear duct? Milk in the eye! Except 1) my baby is wiggly and I can’t keep her head still, and 2) my boobs do not cooperate and will neither squirt nor drop on command.

I’m not a leader by nature and am rarely engorged and I thank my lucky stars for that regularly. Except it’d be great to be able to get the milk out when I need it. Like turning on a faucet. Just a little pinch and drip drip drip right into the eye. Work with me, girls! I buy you nice bras!

I have more Tweets I Didn’t Send, but see Tweet #2. Both children are awake (that lasted not at all) and I should maybe not neglect them.

What tweets didn’t YOU send? Or what tweets do you wish had never been sent?…

My Things

(Not) Back to school

It feels like the entire world went back to school today.

(Around here, students and teachers have been back for a month and are about to have their first week break thanks to a modified year-round school calendar. Totally awesome until the summer.)

Except not me. I didnt go back to school. Right now, Im just mom.

Whats weird is I dont miss it. I expected to miss it.

I expected to feel a pang of loss? sadness? guilt? something? when I saw my teacher friends posting on Facebook about getting back to their classrooms. Or when I drove past the school twice a week to take Joshua to preschool.

Part of me misses the students. The stories. Sharing my life with them and having them feel comfortable enough to share their lives with me. Part of me misses laughing with colleagues during lunch or planning periods. The adult conversations.

But thats it.

The last two years I spent in the classroom were fraught with feeling unimportant and unappreciated, not by my students, but by an administration that viewed me as a cog in the machine and not a valued professional. I dont miss the curtly worded emails that left me feeling like Id been the one to screw up when I was in no way the one who screwed up. The ceaseless feeling that Big Brother was watching and that at any given moment, my name would be drawn to enter into the Hunger Games of teaching high school for no other reason than that it was my unlucky day.

In a lot of ways, I think the last two years and all of the bureaucracy and bullshit are the sole reasons I dont miss being in the classroom. And that doesnt even begin to touch on the nationwide evisceration of teaching as a profession worthy of respect and support.

There are days now when I dont feel appreciated. When what I want for myself sometimes feels unimportant in the grand scheme of things my family needs.

But it doesnt compare to the feelings from the past two years.

I still wake up early now. But I dont dread going to work.

Even on the worst of days, I dont dread being home with my kids.

I suppose thats all the confirmation I need to know I made the right choice.

Things We Should Do

Gratitude is the best therapy

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that yesterday got off to a rough start. I was touched out before 9:00 a.m. thanks to a teething baby who wouldn’t take a nap and a preschooler who wanted ALL THE THINGS. And when I finally got her to sleep and took a shower, Joshua woke her up because he HAD to play blocks when he almost never plays blocks.

(Why do they pick the noisy toys when you need them to be quiet and the quiet toys when it’s okay to be noisy? What kind of law is that Murphy?)

It was one of those mornings where I wanted to just run away screaming and never look back. At least for a few hours.

So, to get out of the house, we went to Target. At the very least, it would just be a change of scenery. And then, while in a drive-thru picking up lunch, I saw this:

Gratitude is the best Therapy
Thanks for the reminder, Universe.

Thanks for the reminder, Universe.

It’s like the Universe knew what I needed to see and showed it to me. Right on time. Like all the life lessons the Universe teaches.

I started thinking about all the things in my life for which I am grateful.

My family is healthy. We have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. We both have jobs, one of which allows me to work part-time from home.

It all felt so trite. So Have vs. Have-not. I mean, I’m grateful for all of those things, yes. But if those are the things I’m grateful for, that means I’m grateful for having them because someone else doesn’t have them. Which just made me feel worse instead of better.

So while I waited to place my order and waffled between a cheeseburger or a chicken sandwich, I thought a little harder.

I replayed our trip through Target. I smiled at the conversation Id had with a former student about the night’s football game and how he was happy for me in my new adventure outside the classroom. I felt the weight of Emma asleep on my chest in the sling. I felt Joshua’s small hand in mine as we walked across the parking lot. I envisioned Emma’s gummy smile. I heard Joshua say, Mama! Wook at dis! I can get dis tomorrow!

I grew lighter and happier with every image and feeling that flashed across my heart. Id did it. Id pushed the reset button on our day. I was grateful for that car and its bumper sticker.

I’m grateful for do-overs.

I’m grateful that even when we have a bad morning or a bad day, there is grace for better moments.

There is always grace.…

Things We Should Do

A blog about blogging: Part Two

I blogged about blogging and yall didn’t run away! Winning!

(Is anyone else still saying that or just me? I admit to being notoriously behind when it comes to proper slang words. But winning is maybe the first good thing Charlie Sheen gave us since Major League.)

First, yall are flattering. Truly. I didn’t write that post as a way to fish for compliments. I don’t ever expect compliments. (Except for maybe about Emma and Joshua because good GOD I grow cute kids and I’m not ashamed to say that out loud.) But really, thank you for your kindness and for telling me that you like what you read here. I don’t ever want to get to the point where it feels like my voice isn’t coming through on this page. It’s a voice I’ve worked hard to develop, and while I don’t doubt it will adapt and grow, it’s my voice and I’m proud of it.

Your comments about growing and blogging, in general, were so helpful in so many ways. And also slightly internally confusing. But mostly incredibly reassuring.

In the beginning, blogging was just for me to talk about being pregnant and then to talk about Joshua and what it was like to be a new mom. It was a place to come and throw my words out to the world. And then things changed and yall helped me realize that that’s more than okay.

It’s comforting to know that it’s okay to want people to read my words and to want to find ways to have more people read my words. I’m happy to know that it’s not selfish and stupid to want to grow.

And then in the comments, the issue of sponsorship and selling out came up and that’s where things get internally confusing.

Take product reviews for instance. There are those who say that if a blogger chooses to publish only positive product reviews of items she genuinely loves, that blogger is being dishonest by handling negative reviews of items she does not love via email with the company instead of publishing them.

There are some readers, not necessarily mine, who believe that monetizing in any way, through selling ads or joining ad networks, makes that blogger a sell-out. And there are others who believe that if a blogger runs a sponsored post, then anything said in that sponsored post is false.

And people can’t even seem to agree on what exactly a sponsored post is. There’s the camp who writes a blog post about something like going to the grocery store and helping an old lady load her car and then at the bottom says this post brought to you by Acme Handbags. The handbag has nothing to do with the grocery store or the old lady but that company bought ad space on that blog and that’s how that blogger chooses to recognize that advertiser. There are others, the kind you’ve seen here, where a company hires bloggers to write about a given topic, advertorials, like my recipe for Cheaters Mousse. It’s an advertisement for a product but it fits within the framework of something I might already be blogging about.

Blogging

In the spirit of honesty, here’s the thing.

Blogging costs money.

And it costs time.

And despite the fact that I’ve quit my day job, I like being compensated for my time.

So if I can write and share my heart and grow my blog and occasionally get paid for that, in either money or products that I love and genuinely use in my home, why is that a bad thing? If people believe me when I talk about the good and bad days of motherhood, why would they not believe me when I say this _____ is awesome and I think you love it?

I’m not looking for a book deal or a billion dollars, but I would like for this to be a self-sustaining hobby that maybe affords me a sitter and a date night once in a while.

If accepting sponsors (which I do) is something that helps generate more traffic for both of us and is a mutually beneficial relationship, is that wrong? A disservice to my readers and the community I’m building here?

What’s the point at which things go from wow, this is an awesome blog to wow, shes a sellout? Where is that line? Is that line different for every blogger and every reader?

Where is that balance?

Save-on-Blogging-Costs

Things We Should Do

Breaking the rules- Blogging About Blogging

Please allow me to be a rebel and break some rules, yall. I need to blog about blogging. Specifically this blog. Because writing commentary about anyone else would be in bad taste.

Basically, I need to say that this is hard.

Sometimes, really hard.

Before going to BlogHer last year, I thought I was on the verge of something big. Huge. I didn’t know what that something was, but I felt it. I knew that greatness was out there, waiting for me. I was incredibly hopeful for the next step. Whatever that next step was supposed to be.

And then I found out I was Surprise Pregnant and got all locked up inside my own mind for a time and weeks would go by before I’d open the dashboard and sit down to clickety-clack on my keyboard and talk to yall. All of my hope was gone? Dormant? Buried under a metric ton of FREAKING THE FREAKOUT.

This year, I went to BlogHer with virtually no expectations for my blog. I really went to see my people and New York City and if I learned a thing or two, cool. And now I’ve been home for almost a month and what I realized I learned is that I want to take this seriously. And I want to be taken seriously.

The trouble is I don’t know how and I’m finding out that there’s a whole lot I don’t know about this blogging thing that I thought I knew. But beyond that, I want this place to grow and I don’t know how to make that happen.

I want people to read what I have to write here on this blog of mine.

It feels wrong somehow to admit that, but I have a desire to have people read my words. But I do.

But I don’t want people community all to think I’ve somehow sold myself out to grow in this space. But I feel like I need to grow. I need to challenge myself to be better. To see what I can be.

I want to tell stories here. I want to get up on my soapbox here. I want to use my voice for good here.

I want to share my life here.

And the word share means that there are two (or more) parties involved. If I’m sharing, someone’s receiving, right?

Here I am. Where are you?

I want to grow this blog without losing my readers. Is that even possible?

Blogging About Blogging

My Things

Not Super. JustMom

That’s have been the title of this blog for three years now. Not SuperJust Mom. But now the punctuations shifted a little. Or its shifting in my head.

I’m hanging up a few of my hats. I’m scaling back. My cape is at the dry cleaners. Indefinitely. For now, I’m just mom.

It feels good.

Lighter.

I’m two days into my new gig.

Joshua’s have been plagued with Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease and I have been plagued with whining. And Emmas spit up enough for the four of us. Mostly through her nose. All over me and three burp cloths.

It’s glamorous, this new life of mine. Really.

But today we baked cookies. (The cheaters Tollhouse break-and-bakes, but still. Cookies.)

We declared today pajama day and lounged around watching Thomas and breaking out into impromptu dance parties.

We made Play-doh rocket ships and Joshua counted backward from 10, shooting BLAST OFF! after he got to 1.

We snuggled.

We sang.

The rug is littered with toys.

Sure, these are the things we’d do on summer vacation anyway, but this time it feels different. It doesn’t feel like I’m cramming all the fun mom stuff into my summer to make up for the time I won’t has come this fall.

It feels free.

Happy.

It feels right.…