Mastering Motherhood – Who are We Trying To Impress?

iStock_000010560937SmallWhile trying to manage life with my three littles under the age of 5, it isn’t always picture perfect. My house doesn’t look like a magazine, my kids may be unruly at times, and my table doesn’t always have 100% organic foods scratch made by me. And I am coming to the realization that THIS IS OK.

I don’t think it should be any secret, motherhood and parenting is hard. We’re always wondering if we are doing the right thing with our kids. Making sure we are raising them right. Making sure they’re growing enough and eating healthy enough. If we are engaging their mind enough. Are we ever doing enough? What it seems to come down to is insecurity, and we are torturing ourselves with it. The pressure we put on ourselves to be the perfect parent come with a lot of internal voices (or external if you tend to hang around the sanctimonious types) telling us that we are screwing up, further feeding those insecurities.

What comes first is what we are feeding our children. First thing we are hit with when they are babies is that “Breast is best”. Don’t give them any of that evil formula because, OMG, that is poison! Except if you’re a mom like me who has major supply issues, that “evil formula” is what keeps our babies from starving. But in the pressure to be the perfect mother, when you have trouble performing that ultimate motherly act of breastfeeding, the feeling of failure prevails. And so begins some of the major insecurity and self doubt in our mothering kills.

So continuing on with what we are feeding our kids, you absolutely MUST make sure that everything you are giving them is all organic, hormone-free, non-gmo, etc. Wait, you carefully budget and buying EVERYTHING organic is too cost prohibitive for you? OMG you are poisoning them!  Well at least you don’t use plastic plates and tableware, don’t give them plastic sippy cups, or store any of your food in plastic containers. Wait, you don’t use ALL glass containers all of the time?? OMG, plastic! Oh the horror! You’re poisoning them! 

Then, it seems we need to have our kids dressed perfectly… you know in adorable and always fashionable (and organic) clothing so they are ready for a photo shoot at a moments notice. You also need to make sure to have your house immaculate so you can easily take said photo shoot of your kids in “candid” fashion and simultaneously show off your gorgeous Pinterest-worthy home decor as well as your Pinterest-worthy kid photos. Wait, your kids aren’t perfect clean little angels that never mess up the house? And they don’t always keep their latest baby fashions clean and free of spit-up or stains?  OMG, you’re doing motherhood all wrong!

What about the awesome kids enrichment programs and craft projects to engage their minds and expand their horizons. Of course, those craft projects always come off perfectly. Your kids are such talented artists ahead of their time. And of course, said projects are always perfectly mess free. Wait, your 2 year old doesn’t speak 6 languages and can’t even scribble remotely in the lines?? OMG, your kid is so behind!

Well you are babywearing your little ones until they are the age of 5, right? Wait you use a stroller some of the time? OMG, you are an attachment parenting failure!

Well you cosleep with your babies right? Wait, you DON’T cosleep and you sleep train? OMG, you are heartless! Wait, you DO cosleep? OMG, that’s so dangerous!

Had enough yet?

It’s a strange thing many of us do to ourselves as mothers, putting on the pressure to be perfect in nearly every aspect of motherhood. Through dozens of parenting books and websites, we get so many mixed messages out there to begin with on what is the right way to nourish, teach, and raise our children. Not to mention what we observe the other seemingly “perfect” moms, we get to thinking we have to be all things to everyone. The picture of perfect motherhood.

Really, when it comes down to it, who are we trying to impress? Other Moms? Are we letting the “Sanctimommies” get into our heads? Are we risking our sanity just to make lives picture perfect and Pinterest-worthy for others to see?

Can we stop this madness and just make sure that our kids are happy, healthy, well mannered, and keep them alive until it is no longer our responsibility to do so?  Stop playing into the Mommy Wars, and stop judging others on the lifestyles and the choices they make for their own families. Other moms that make different choices or take different paths than you are not an indictment on your own lack of perfection.

I can certainly tell you, my (almost) 4 month old does not care a wit if she doesn’t sleep on an organic mattress blessed by monks and doesn’t necessarily wear adorable hipster approved, fashionable, organic clothing all the time. And my 4 year old certainly does not color in the lines at all, but I am not worried about his college prospects right now. My kids are clean, fed, happy and healthy, so I am doing my job ok so far. I am certain that I am going to fail sometimes.  I am just trying to master motherhood the best I can, embracing my imperfections and all.

Welcome 2014 – The Year of Awesome

hello_2014Happy New Year everyone! Today is the first day of 2014 and I am very much looking forward to this coming year. 2014 is going to be the Year of Awesome.

Like most people are doing these past few days, I am sitting down and reflecting on where I am now and documenting where I want myself and my family to be in the coming year. You may call this making resolutions, but I always thought the word “resolutions” is a little too cliche (and a little lame). Besides, who remembers those “resolutions” after the first month? So let’s call this my “Goals & To-do List for 2014”. That’s much better.

Smile More, Stress Less.

  • In my quest to become a better me, I need to remember what is important, what is not, surround myself with positivity and let my smile shine. Life is too short to hold on to stress and negativity.

Get Fit.

  • I am 3 months postpartum, and I can’t really use the “baby weight” excuse all year. It is time to get my but and gear, work on a more active lifestyle. Notice I said get fit instead of lose weight. As much as it would delight me to see the scale tick downward, my main goal is to be stronger, have more energy an just generally feel better.

Change our diet.

  • Kind-of goes hand-in-hand with getting fit, but I need to make some changes to be a healthier me, and make sure my kids have healthy habits. Nothing too drastic, and no traditional “diet”. I’ll write about this more later, but I am going to stick to more whole foods, especially when feeding my family. In addition to that, I plan to cut out sugar AND artificial sweeteners, and cut my consumption of wheat and other carbs. Nothing processed.

Take Zumba Instructor Training.

  • I found the one exercise activity that I absolutely love. So much so that I get sad when Zumba class is over because I want to keep going. I started it 3 years ago after my first son was born, did it through my 2 last pregnancies and now I’m on a mission to use Zumba as a tool for my “Get Fit” goal above, and become a Zumba instructor.

Organize and clean house.

  • I have plenty of stuff. My kids have plenty off stuff. Too much in fact. It is time for some major purging of my closet, kitchen cabinets, and toy room. The Salvation Army/Goodwill will have lots of donations coming their way from me. I can’t wait to get rid of the clutter and feel more in control of my house.

Save more and spend less.

  • I like to shop, but it is time to prioritize. We have lots of things that we would like to save for in this house, which means I need to spend less on non-essentials. And like I mentioned above, we have too much stuff as it is. So I am making an effort to be more budget conscious, focus spending only on needs and essentials.

Use my fancy camera more.

  • I purchased a nice DSLR camera last year for myself for Mother’s Day.  I got it to take better pictures of my kids, and I need to use it more for that purpose.  I still have a bit more to learn about using this camera and could use some new lenses to play with. Also, I need to get to make sure I have more pics in front of the camera with my kids. Don’t want them to look back at all their pictures and think they were mother-less.

Have more fun.

  • I am going to have more fun, play with my kids, and do more of what I love. Got to remember not to take life too seriously, and get down on the floor and play with my kiddos. I will work on a bunch of craft projects and get my kids in on the crafting action. We will have fun!

Blog more.

  • I like to write. I like to document and share things in my life. I need more practice at it. And I need to do it more than a couple times a month.

So that is my master to-do list for 2014. I know that being a mom of a preschooler, toddler, and infant all at once can be a bit chaotic. I’m not striving for perfection, but doing the best I can.  It will be the Year of Awesome, so let’s rock this new year.

This Baby’s Birthday Has Been Decided

The end is in sight! That’s right, this baby’s eviction notice has been posted, and the induction date has been set for next week. A little earlier than I expected, so I am trying not to freak out, but it certainly will be a relief not to be pregnant anymore.

Get the pleasure of weekly non-stress tests until the end of this pregnancy. Lucky me.

Get the pleasure of weekly non-stress tests until the end of this pregnancy. Lucky me.

In this pregnancy, just like my previous two, I have been “blessed” with Gestational Diabetes again (thank you obesity and genetics!). The GD diagnosis sort-of puts me in the “high risk” pregnancy category. Now say “sort-of” because all of my pregnancies have been relatively uneventful, the blood sugars have stayed relatively in control when I behave on the diet, and babies have remained safe and healthy (and not giant babies which they always warn you). With GD, along with being on the special diet, I get a few extra growth ultrasounds and weekly NSTs in the remaining weeks of pregnancy. And this time, because I had start on insulin a couple weeks ago, I get a few extra visits with the Perinatologist sprinkled in.

So last week, much to my surprise, after my first appointment with Dr. Doom & Gloom (the Perinatologist), midwife wanted to talk induction date. Parts of the baby were looking slightly large on the latest growth ultrasound, though still only 68th percentile. And because I am on insulin during this bout of GD (first time I’ve ever had to do that) they felt more comfortable for me to have this baby between 38 and 39 weeks. So that brings us to next week.

Am I ready? Yes and no.

Yes, I am totally over being pregnant, tired of having to diet, and tired of body being in pain from the waist down all the time. So I can’t wait to just not be pregnant anymore. Not to mention, we finally get to meet this baby and introduce them to our family.

On the other hand, I don’t feel quite ready because my to-do list seems like a mile long, there is always a mess to clean up (thanks to my 2 busy boys), always more de-cluttering to do, and I don’t feel like I’ve quite mentally ready and fully practiced in all of my hypnobabies techniques to get ready for this birth (a whole post for a different day).  Oh, and then there’s the fact that, OMG, I’M ABOUT TO GO FROM BEING A MOM OF 2 TO A MOM OF 3… two of which are under the age of 2! Freaking out just a little bit.

So ready or not, here it comes. By this time next week, we will be snuggling our new baby at home. Thank goodness we will have great support from our families (my awesome mom is coming!) and with their help I should make it through the next few weeks with some sanity.

Lobsters – A Life Lesson For My 4 Year Old

lobster_lessonsI am learning that four year olds are inquisitive, and you can never quite predict what is going to come out of their mouths and when.  My 4 year old is in the normal phase of asking question after question on how things work, where things come from, and why things are they way they are. He is just trying to understand how his world works. To me, it gives me a fascinating insight to how his little brain works and to see the world from his eyes.

This week I was reminded of all that when I took the kids on routine trip to the grocery store. Without fail, when we walk near the fish counter, Joey must pay a visit to the big lobster tank to say hi to all the lobsters. He just loves to stare that them and watch them crawl around each other. Some days it is hard to pull him away, and this day was no exception. But soon I was able to drag him away so we could complete our shopping. Then he starts asking me questions about the lobsters’ eyes, and where their mouths are and what they eat. Since I am not really an expert on lobster anatomy and such, so I usually tell him my best guess and recommend that we look it up when we get home.

Then Joey asks, “Mommy, what do people DO with the lobsters?”

“Well honey, they take them home and cook and eat them,” hoping that would be the end of it.

“Cook and eat them? Why do they do that?” he asks.

“Because lobster is delicious,” I answer him, part of me wondering what the heck he thought they were for… decorations?

“Well how do people cook them, put them on a fire?” he then asks.

GULP… Oh boy. Now I know how lobsters are cooked, and really I never gave the way they meet their demise before they make it to my plate much of a thought. But how does throwing something into a super hot pot of water to boil alive sound to a 4 year old?  In my mind, I’m trying to find a way to gently tell him about the (torturous?) way lobsters come to their end and decide that the truth is probably the best way.

“They way lobsters are cooked is that they get put in a super hot pot of boiling water for a few minutes and when they turn bright red, they are done cooking and ready to eat.”

“Well mommy, when people try to eat them, won’t their claws pinch their mouths?”

“Um… no honey, after you cook a lobster, they are no longer alive so their claws no longer work,” I told him.

I look at him waiting for the next question… “Oh, okay,” he says. Then seemingly drops the conversation. That was enough for his 4 year old brain at that moment.

Oh boy. Lessons on life and death and where the things we eat really come from. All that can come up in one little conversation about lobsters.

The whole thing made me laugh a little an I knew that he would probably bring it back up again (he did). When I thought more about it, it made sense that usually the food we take home and eat (specifically meat or most seafood) is not alive and walking (or swimming) around. It has already been taken care of and packaged for us to take home to cook. So when he brought up the cooking of lobsters again later, we made comparisons to the chicken or beef that we eat that were once walking around on a farm before it made it to our store and to our table. And really for a 4 year old, we don’t need to go into much more detail on the in between for HOW they got there. It’s interesting to see his wheels turning while he processes how it all works.

So will he actually try lobster? Are you kidding me? This is my picky eater we are talking about. Though we told him how yummy we think lobster  is (not that we go on eating lobster all the time), he is not so convinced.

Next life lesson that has come up in the last 24 hours… How is the baby is going to come out of mommy’s belly? Since I did not quite know the appropriate 4 year old answer at the moment, I told him that we would talk about it later.  So I better figure it out before he asks again (and he will very soon).

He’s One Year Old!

The year passed by in the blink of an eye. Seems like his birth was just yesterday. Now he is one year old and amazing us with his abilities every day.

My baby is now officially a toddler.

 n-1-birthday

Happy Birthday Little Man! We love you so much!

Our Last Fling of Summer

The summer flew by so fast, that before we knew it, it was the week before Labor Day weekend and we hadn’t even been to the shore yet. How can this be? We kept meaning to make plans for it, and other things kept pushing to “maybe next week”. We approached the last week of summer and our LAST chance to make it. What is a summer in New Jersey without at least one shore trip?

I made the decision that on a Monday in the last week of summer we would take our chance. So the grandparents and I took the littles to Wildwood for a day of fun. It was my littlest one’s first trip to the shore ever, and the first shore trip where my 3 year old was big enough to take full advantage of the ocean swimming and boardwalk treats and rides.

When do Wildwood, we like to do the beach by day, and then the boardwalk in the evening. Though the clouds all around us looked ominous, it ended up being a nearly perfect day, only a few stray raindrops. The people just down the beach in each direction, were not so lucky. It’s like the sky opened up just for us.

Nathan enjoyed the time at the beach as much as any 6 month old could. He nursed, napped, reached for toys, nursed and napped some more. Before we were done at the beach, we stuck his little toes in the water just because.

Turns our, Joey is my fearless little fish. He had talked all morning about swimming in the ocean, sticking his head under water and everything. I thought he would be a little timid when we actually got there, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. We found our spot, he got lathered up in sunscreen and then ran straight for the water and we could hardly keep him out of there for the next 4 hours. He kept trying to convince Grandpop to take him further and further out into the waves. No fear in this kid. He hardly sat down for a break for 2 seconds, before dropping his juice box, flinging off his towel with both arms and running straight for the water again. Poor Grandpop didn’t get to sit down for the first 2.5 hours.  It warms my heart to see that my son loves the water as much as his mother. It is my happy place too.

Day at the beach lead to the evening on the boardwalk, with boardwalk food, rides and all. Baby did his thing in the stroller (mostly slept) and Joey got to ride all the rides he wanted to his heart’s content. Of course, he had no nap (we are dropping those lately) so at dinner, he was so exhausted he fell asleep at the table. Then got a second wind and had to do a few more rides before we made our way to the car.

All in all, our blast of summer was a great day. We made a promise that next summer, we wil do something we have never done and spend a week at the shore. Can’t wait!

I Have a High Maintenance Baby?

Can I have a dozen of these pacifiers please? Oh wait. Nevermind.

My lovely second child is such a sweet and cuddly baby. But he is a cuddly baby that is not easily soothed it seems, except by mommy. For these first few months of his life, I thought nothing of it. He is with me all the time. We are still nursing. No big deal. That is, until he is watched by someone else when I have an appointment to go to or a rare date night with the husband. Mommy seems to be his favorite pacifier, and the only person who he will lay down and sleep with.

Two weeks ago, I thought we had finally found a pacifier that he would take (other than mommy), and willingly. I have no idea where this one came from and I only had the one. (I researched online and found out it is a Tommee Tippee brand) So then I am like, “quick, let’s go out and find them and buy a dozen!” I was about to do a new post about the wonders of this little pacifier. Thank goodness I didn’t. A few days after I went out and bought a few more of them to keep on hand, he acted as if I was trying to put acid in his mouth with this pacifier. Scratch that.

So now I guess I have a “high maintenance” baby, or so I have been told. I’m on the fence though. Sure, he has days that he just wants to be held all the time. And some days he does not want to sleep unless he is being held. But I have found ways to manage here at home. I can usually get him to sleep in his swing or bouncy, but I know our days are numbered with those since he is growing fast. But I cannot seem to get him to sleep in his crib or bassinet or any other flat surface. And sleeping at night by himself (meaning, without cosleeping)? Forget about it.

Part of me wonders if some of this is really a problem though? He is just now only 5 months old. I am still nursing him, albiet part-time, but I have made it much longer with this baby than I did with my first son. He likes nursing for comfort at times and I let him. I never considered myself a full-on “attachment parent”. Cosleeping wasn’t my ideal plan at first, but my god, without it I would get zero hours of sleep at night. He likes to be held a lot, and to compensate and allow me to get anything done, I wear him in my wrap or Ergo carrier. I just do what I can. But because no one else can seem to figure out how to soothe him, does that make him a high maintenance baby? Or just a normal baby who prefers mommy?

I do want the sleep thing to change. I am hoping that he will possibly grow out of some of this. But sometimes I am made to feel that I am doing something wrong. It’s the tsk tsk or disapproving looks I get about cosleeping. The frustration I hear from others who can’t seem to calm my baby and get him to sleep without me.

Oh well. I will keep trying in vain to get him to take that damn pacifier again. He liked it one day, maybe he’ll like it again.

 

Potty Training Pain

toilet training

Doesn’t look so scary, right?

Potty training sucks. Everyone loves to keep telling me that boys are the most difficult. Well my son is definitely proving that to be true. Difficult barely begins to cover it.  I keep asking my friends to remind me that no kid goes away to college still in diapers. I have been having a hard time believing that my 3 year old won’t break that trend.

It all started just before he was 2 and a half. I was pregnant with #2 and he was showing signs that he was ready for the potty. Heck, at preschool he was asking his teachers to go to the potty like some of his friends. So we were excited, thinking we would have him trained in no-time, before the baby arrived. Our excitement turned to angst, as the boy who was so willing to use the potty at first, suddenly started outright refusing to even sit on the potty at all. I mean, screaming fits, running, yelling, crying, etc. It was so frustrating. Since the baby was coming soon, we had to take a break to ease the transition to having the new baby at home. So we took the pressure off for a few months.

In June, I was bound and determined to get this potty thing done. He was 3 years old now, and he needed to be trained by the fall for school. I got the book “Potty Training Boys” to see if I can get an edge (that book is only OK). I decided to just ditch the diapers during the day. So I have spent the last several weeks cleaning up lots of messes. First week, he would fight me tooth and nail to even go near the potty. I think it is mostly because he didn’t want to stop playing to go use the potty. He would just pee on the floor right where he was. I tried every reward under the sun. I started a sticker chart. I cheered and jumped up and down like a crazy person when he was successful. But it still was a fight. And he would still go hide and make accidents.

I got serious and started setting a timer and getting the kid on there at regular intervals. At first I met more resistance, but then we kind-of made it a game. Then I found that lollipops seemed to garner the most motivation. After about 3 weeks of timers and sporadic messes, I think we have finally turned the corner. He has finally made the connection when he feels he needs to pee and will even go do that on his own. He’s even transitioned to standing. I dare say that he has mastered that piece of the puzzle (during the day).

Poop is another story. And I am tired of cleaning it up. I know we are getting there, but it is TOUGH. He is a stubborn little boy that marches to the beat of his own drum. And as frustrating as it is, that is part of what I love so much about him. We will get there. There will no be packing of pampers for college. Right?

Are You Taking Care of You?

Are you taking time for yourself?Recently, the Mogul Mom had this great post – Are You Getting The Best of You, that had hit close to home for me. As a busy work-at-home Mommy, there are times I am running myself ragged for my family, my clients, my business, and I tend to neglect myself in the process. But it also made me wonder, if ANYBODY is getting the best of ME?

I know in my own experience, if I am not taking care of myself as much, the rest of my world can tend to get neglected as well. I don’t feel so great and that can bleed into how I treat my young son or husband, it can zap my motivation to get things done around the house, and then my business gets neglected because I get bogged down with stress, lack of motivation, etc. It can be a vicious cycle. Like that Mogul Mom post says, “When your well is dry, you cannot give water to anyone.

What it really comes down to is that if I treat myself well, if I get in tune with my needs, what I really want and want makes me happy, the things around me fall into place. Sometimes, all it takes is to give in to my my creative side making crafty things, other times just snuggling with my 2 yr old on a rainy day does it, kicking back and obsessing over Pinterest, or just listening to the Spa Channel on SiriusXM radio while I work. Some of these little things ease my restlessness, put me back in a good mood and motivate me to do better in all other facets of my busy life.

One other huge part of taking care of me us using the word “No”. In my adulthood, I became the type of woman who thinks she can “do it all”, and that became even stronger once I became a mother. I would hardly turn anything down, and would overload myself with volunteer positions and tasks that were not a priority. But in an effort to make sure I deserved my “Super Mom” cape, I would do it. But I have learned that I HAVE to say no sometimes, and let go of some things that just don’t serve me or my family as well. Doing so is a huge way of taking care of myself and saying “yes” to me. Plus it enables me to do things that are more important, like spending more time with my family.

The blog at Mogul Mom (you can tell I love that site) had a great follow up post on 25 Simple Ways to Nurture Yourself. I recommend trying each one of them at least once a week. I know I intend to.

So how are YOU taking care of you? I would love to know the ways you unwind and take care of yourself. Leave a comment and let me know!

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Trista Sutter – A WAHM Who Has it Together

This story caught my eye from the Working Mother publication I subscribe to. I usually don’t pay attention to what the “Celebrity Moms” are up to in the media because I can hardly relate to them. But Trista Sutter (of the Bachelorette fame) is one that I can identify with. Even though she is a “celebrity”, she lives a pretty low-key lifestyle that is somewhat out of the limelight. She is a busy mom of two young ones, has many of the same chores and jobs that us regular everyday-moms have (laundry, housecleaning, chauffeuring children), plus she is involved in different business opportunities while working at home. I like her even more now. 🙂
This article is a great read for many work-at-home-moms that are looking to see how others are making it, so go check it out.

Posted via email from megbarberva’s posterous

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