Future Kings and Queens, and Nurturing Tender Confident Hearts

Have you heard that Audio Adrenaline song Kings and Queens? I cannot listen to it without crying…

Break our hearts once again
Help us to remember when
We were only children hoping for a friend

Boys become kings, girls will be queens
Wrapped in Your majesty
When we love, when we love the least of these
Then they will be brave and free

While the focus of the song is primarily about children in need, it always hits me HARD in the gut because in this fast paced world that only seems to be getting faster, children can so easily become caught up in the fray and forgotten.

Continue reading Future Kings and Queens, and Nurturing Tender Confident Hearts

One day, an open letter to my babies

Last night, you both slept so very poorly, you wanted to nurse all night long. I can’t really blame you, we’ve all been sick and you’re starving cause you can’t keep anything down. We were a sweaty mess of tears, tangled legs, arms, and completely messed up sheets. I needed to use the bathroom and every time you’d have fallen asleep and I’d try to sneak away you’d wake up, root for me desperately and cry as if your heart was breaking.


I found myself so frustrated and wishing you would just go to sleep already and STAY asleep. I finally decided to just run for the bathroom and tried to temporarily shut out the cries I heard intensifying from the bed.
I rushed back, my frustration at an all time high, and you both latched on frantically for what seemed to be the umteenth time that night. Then, both of you reached for me with tiny, sweaty little hands and grabbed on to mine, and you each a let out a loud sigh of relief upon the contact. I looked down at both of you, felt your bodies relax and the utter relief on your faces that you were back in my arms. And it hit me, hard. Right now, I’m literally all you need, all you want. In your mind, I am all powerful, the answer to everything, the omnipotent ruler of your universe. No matter what, you believe I can fix it, make it better. Right now, I am literally your entire world.


And at the same moment it also hit me, one day, so soon, this will change. You’ll become more independent, as you should. You’ll see God is omnipotent, not I. You’ll need me less and less, which is also how it should be. One day you’ll realize I am not all powerful, your world will expand and other people will become important. One day the sheets won’t be so sweaty and tangled with all these arms and legs, your little mouth won’t root and your little hands won’t reach for me anymore because you will have grown into your own bed and things will have changed. It will be quiet, oh so, so quiet.


One day you will have moved out and your own children will reach for you with their sweaty little hands and tiny mouths, and I will go to the bathroom at my leisure.
The only cries I hear will be memories in my mind, you will call me but it will be different.
And it will be a beautiful thing, we will celebrate your family and I will still be there for you, but oh, how I shall desperately miss being your entire world.


Some days it’s hard, and sometimes I get tired, and that’s ok. Parenthood IS hard. One day, it will happen to you and I hope I can comfort you and hold your hand again when you’re tired or need to cry, and all you want to do is pee in peace.
And I hope, with all my heart, above all else, one day you will know, how very much I love you, have always loved you, and will always love you, and that no matter how big you get, you’ll always be MY world.

 

Love,

Mommy

When Love is in the House…It Doesn’t Matter The Size

Last year, my husband and I made the decision to ask my parents if we could move in with them for a while. This was prompted by several factors, not in the least of which included that our apartment complex had raised our rent and we had barely been making it financially before that, despite both of us working seven day weeks. As our twins were eight months old at the time, we decided that ‘pooling resources’ with my parents would be the best for our family in many ways.


It would provide us the opportunity to cut our work hours back a bit while also relieving some of the financial strain and permitting us more time with our children as well as with each other before my husband starts medical school. With my parents generous welcome, we packed up ourselves, our two babies and our three cats and moved into my parents loving, albeit tiny, home.


We knew it would be cozy, one of my two sisters was already living with my parents, along with her dog and my parents own three cats. So here we are, six cats, one dog, two babies and five adults all in one home. That’s quite the large group to have under one roof, and with that many people eventually something someone does is going to get on someone else’s nerves. Things that might not have been annoying before seem different when one has to experience it every day. And, no matter how close you are or how much you love each other, people are individuals with opinions and their own ways of doing things and so we are learning to compromise, flex, and adjust our own set routines in order to be successful in this living arrangement. We have come to understand that differences of opinion do not mean a lack of mutual respect and love, and I believe that is a tremendous key to our success.


Within this tiny home, we have two sets of parents, one seasoned pair and one new pair, an aunt, and infant twins. That is a tremendous amount of opinions and emotions. But it is equally a tremendous amount of love and life. Things like grocery shopping and bill sharing have not been a huge issue, as we are all focused on economizing and helping each other that way. And although things like home organization, personal space, and learning to balance keeping five adults and two babies clean with one shower is a daily challenge, where we are learning the most is in our routines and how we function with basic life tasks.


These tight quarters have forced us to put priority focus on communication. Despite the fact that I am blessed to have a very loving and close relationship with my family, in order to thrive let alone survive the circumstances, it is crucial that each and every one of us is confident to communicate and discuss when issues arise, both good and bad. And equally important that we discuss issues BEFORE they reach a critical status.


For all of us, it means remembering that discussion does not mean a lack of love or respect, rather the opposite. For example, my mother and I have a very open and honest relationship. If we irritate or frustrate each other, we talk about it and work through it because we value our relationship enough to do so. It does not mean we never disagree, but it does mean that when we do we work through it instead of shoving it under the rug. We respect each other enough to say, hey, this isn’t working the best let’s fix it, as opposed to not addressing issues and fermenting and stewing until we resent each other and want to blow the roof off of the house. This applies to every member of this house. We have chosen to respect each other and value our relationships enough to put the work in to make it succeed.


And so we are thriving in this tiny little house. We are sharing resources, joys, struggles and experiences, making memories, learning and growing. My children are growing up literally surrounded by people who love and adore them, and I see their confidence and self esteem blossoming every day. And of course, not every moment is easy, but we have found the harder moments to be completely worth it.


That is the case with all life and relationships, I think. To succeed, you have to put in the work. But if it is worth succeeding at, it is worth the work every time.

Boobs are for Babies, (some thoughts on breastfeeding in public)

I think we can all agree breastfeeding, and especially breastfeeding in public, is a pretty hot topic these days. It makes sense, right? I mean, how you feed your baby should most definitely be part of everyone else’s business. (EYE ROLL). And I do not care whether you’re a formula feeding mama or a booby mama, I respect your decision and support you. And you should support yourself and respect that you made the choice you felt best for your baby. It’s your business. No one else’s. I chose to breastfeed my twins, and as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, before babies I saw my boobs as far more sacred parts of my anatomy. These days, I see them as they’re simply what the good Lord gave me to nourish my children with. When they were first born, I was so focused on keeping covered at all times and nursing them discreetly. That idealized image shattered fast, and now I don’t even bat an eye when one of my babies needs to eat. (Because yes, they’re fifteen months today and STILL nursing, as my lovely friend Ashley said in the video we made Monday, people do ask that a lot, we will talk about that ‘still nursing’ topic more in a future post). Why in the world does society try to sexualize our babies eating?! It’s not sexy. It’s not erotic. It’s a lot of work!

And I personally agree with a statement I saw Kristen Bell made in this article, “When it comes to breastfeeding your baby, if you are too nervous to do it in public I think you are part of the problem…Women should own the fact that we are superheroes for the first however many months of your child’s life. It is your opportunity and your duty to feed your baby should you choose to breastfeed and be proud of it.” Now, I do not think you should feel guilty if you’re nervous about feeding your baby while out and about. It’s hard to not feel nervous when every time we turn around someone is saying something negative about it. But as moms, I do think we should fight back against the shaming and guilt and realize that WE are not the problem. If our society has forced some weird perverted concept into peoples minds regarding the action of nourishing our children in a manner in which our physical bodies were literally designed to do, I think we should actively resist it.

Chrissy Teigen has been an active voice for normalizing breastfeeding since she had her baby, posting pics such as her feeding Luna on set  and openly talking about how truly challenging breastfeeding can be. If you’re a breastfeeding mama, I think you can agree that no one chooses to breastfeed because it’s easy. Yes, there are things that are easier about it, no heating up a bottle in the middle of the night, never forgetting the formula at home. But the facts are it’s hard. Your body pretty much belongs to your baby for however long you breastfeed. And no it’s not always comfortable, among other things (watch my rant about the less than glamorous parts of breastfeeding here ). Basically, breastfeeding your kid is beautiful but it’s also hard, and it’s a gift you give them that will literally effect them all their lives. Breastfeeding should not be shamed, or treated as something to do in dark corners away from prying eyes. I’m not advocating flapping your boobs around and squirting your nipples in people’s faces, (did anyone else see that article though? HILARIOUS). And I have to agree with Mila Kunis’ response to being shamed for breastfeeding in public, “If it’s not for you, don’t look.” Everyone can have their opinion on it, but if it bothers you, don’t stare.

I recently attended an awards banquet for one of my sisters who is a firefighter, and I admit to having a moment of hesitation when my daughter first went boob digging (because of course this was not an isolated event through the evening). I was surrounded by people in uniform and frankly I didn’t want to make my sister uncomfortable. But, she’s wonderful and hugely supportive, and simply gave me the ‘you know better than to think I care’ look when I glanced at her in hesitation as I latched my child. I breathed a sigh of relief, and fed my babies. And you know, not one single person batted an eye or gave me grief. I’m not even sure many of them noticed. I once read a comment someone made of likening breastfeeding to the act of procreating. WHAT IN THE WORLD. It is nothing like that. AT ALL. I firmly believe that breastfeeding mamas need to take a stand against that way of thinking.

And again, I am not pushing for us to all go out and wave our boobs around in the air and flash our nipples at unsuspecting shoppers. And if using a cover while out makes you more comfortable, you shouldn’t feel ashamed of that either. BUT, I do think we need to focus on changing our mindset and start viewing breastfeeding as a NORMAL life event. I am thankful for other amazing breastfeeding advocates, like The Milk Meg and The Badass Breastfeeder, who are actively working to change the situation. And, while we cannot control others, (not promoting rape culture here ladies!!) I do believe that how we view ourselves effects how others perceive us, so I say, feed those babies in confidence mamas! Feed them whenever they’re hungry, and wherever we are. Let’s be brave, let’s be proud, let’s show the world, BOOBS ARE FOR BABIES. And there ain’t no shame in that.

The Effort and Guilt of Doing Nothing

fullsizerenderOn the heels of my pursuit of peace post, I thought today I’d chat a little more about that and how HARD it is to just, well, chill out. I’m a bit of a ‘wound up’ person, I’ll readily admit it. Let’s just say there’s a reason my family lovingly refers to me as Scrat (Ice Age anyone?) Sitting around and doing nothing legitimately stresses me out, but if the holidays bring anything they bring times of extended sitting and visiting with family and friends. Which is a beautiful thing, but for me personally it’s hard. Like, WAY hard. My mind and body were always ‘on the go’ before kids, it’s just my personality, and now that I’m a mom I’ve gotten even worse. I come by it honestly, my mom is the same way. I used to (and still do) tease her that she is allergic to sitting still.

fullsizerenderI think our culture really contributes to this mindset of having to always be doing something. I mean, being busy is the norm. If you’re not busy, you just must be doing something wrong, right?! And life is busy, especially with kids. That’s just the way it is. But, at least for me, I feel guilty if I’m not accomplishing something almost constantly. Sitting with coffee? Well I could/would/should be folding laundry/picking up toys/cleaning something at the same time. Babes sleeping on my lap?! Time to crunch work emails! I mean, there is always, ALWAYS something to get done and heaven forbid I stare out the window for five minutes while I drink my coffee.img_1874 The only time I don’t feel pressured to be doing something is when I’m sleeping (which as you mamas know, with little ones, sleep isn’t exactly something that’s overflowing in my life at the current moment).

Many other cultures emphasize the importance of those moments of nothing, accept them and even celebrate them. And I think that is SO beautiful, and I wish our own culture was like that. So, while I cannot single handedly change our entire culture, I can start to work on my own mindset. Thus, in addition to my pursuit of finding peaceful moments, I’m going to actively work on fighting the guilt and stress that inevitably comes along with those peaceful moments of doing ‘nothing’. As parents, we aren’t exactly overflowing with opportunities for ‘relax’ practice anyway, so the holidays feel like a good time to start. Who’s with me?!

The Pursuit of Peace

In hopes of helping simplify and bring you a moment of peace, I have compiled a list of special discounts at the bottom of this post that I have procured to share with you, my dear readers!

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Pic Credit: @renegadedrifterphotography (Click to find on Instagram)

As I sit here, my babies sleeping quietly on my lap, drinking a cup of coffee and watching the deer wander slowly through the early morning snow outside my Christmas light wrapped window, a rare moment of beautiful, peaceful calm washes over me. My mind typically feels like a loud blend of several race car tracks, loud music and airplanes roaring overhead, all set to the soundtrack of babies yelling and people trying to talk to me through this insane commotion in my head. I feel like I am always in full speed ahead mode, wash this, move that, always trying to focus enough on the task at hand that I am able to move on to task number two (or two thousand) as efficiently as possible.

But in this moment, the silence strikes me. fullsizerender-3For a moment, the race car tracks are empty, the metal band in my head is still and the sky is clear of airplanes. No children are crying, and no one is trying to ask me anything. The loud static in my head has been at least temporarily replaced by the soft shhhh of the house heat and the gentle purring of the cat. For a moment, everything has stopped, everything is still.

And it feels incredible. I want to freeze this moment, to make it last. I find myself almost nervous to breathe because I am not ready to let it go. But reality is, it will go. The race car tracks will roar to life, the metal band will wake up, (as will most certainly my children) and the sky will populate itself once again with those ridiculously loud airplanes. And that is life. And I love my big, joyous, loud life. But big ships come in over quiet seas, and minds that never stop burn out. I mean, if I was a computer, I would have overheated and blown up quite a while back. As parents, I think one of our biggest challenges is trying to find these quiet moments. It’s so, SO hard to just STOP. To stop our physical, mental and emotional activity and just BE for a moment. There is always something to do, to think about, figure out, or complete.

fullsizerender-2And I think we need to stop, to let the machine cool off, the water to be still, to RECHARGE and reset, to rest. And I think that takes focus, takes effort. And it’s hard to add one more thing to accomplish when you feel like your to do list is already out of control. I mean, yeah, great, let’s add ONE MORE THING to worry about, right? But I think if we can work on these moments, everything else will eventually seem a little less overwhelming, maybe if we find these quiet moments we can enjoy the loud ones a bit more. And while I don’t do New Years resolutions, (hello PRESSURE) I do believe I will add this pursuit of peaceful moments to the top of my goal list. Even if it means getting up fifteen minutes earlier.img_1714

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading The Pursuit of Peace

Ten Tips For Keeping Joy (and sanity!) During the Holidays

fullsizerenderOn the heels of my Ten Reasons I’m Dreading the Holidays post, I thought it only fitting that I also write a positive list of ten things I try and do to not only survive the holidays but actually take pause and ENJOY them. It’s SOOO easy to get caught up rushing from one thing to the next and before you know it the lights and tree are coming down and you never got your snowy walk with hot chocolate or sitting for five minutes by the tree.  I find the end of the holidays sad enough without having to feel like I missed out on the few little things I really wanted to do. I hope some of these help you, and please comment and share tips you find helpful to not only surviving but enjoying the holidays!

  1. img_5944Prioritize prioritize prioritize! It helps me to actually write down a list of things that are important to me, even the silly things. I love to sit with a glass of wine by the tree, and it’s shocking how easily it is for that to not happen. So take a minute to think about what is important to YOU and write it down. Then make a point to let some of the other things go so that you can make the important things happen. It doesn’t matter what it is, taking a walk, getting coffee, going to see holiday lights, petting the cat, what matters is it’s what YOU and your family want to do.
  2. Let go of the perfection expectation. I know it sounds like a cliche but this one is a biggie and ties into prioritizing. It’s also sooooo hard for me! I want the house to be perfect, the meals made, to be on time to every event. I hate being late, and when it matters I’ll make being on time happen. But, having baby twins taught me a lesson in humility. I cannot control everything, try as I might. I’m admittedly a control freak, so being a mom has really taught me that I have to let go sometimes. Sometimes we can’t leave the house until I’ve changed diapers AGAIN, or maybe they’re sleeping in today, or despite pinning every single easy cinnamon roll recipe known to mankind and buying ingredients far in advance, we eat leftovers for breakfast. But it’s ok, because while I might not have succeeded in making a holiday breakfast, my husband and I did sit and play with the babies while having coffee together, and we chose that as our priority.img_1356
  3. Say. No. This one is without fail my Achilles heel, and has always been a battle for me, even before babies. I so want to be able to do everything, see everyone, make everyone happy and just be Superwoman in general. But again, lessons I’ve learned through motherhood also include the realization that I cannot be everywhere and do everything, and now when I try I’m not the only one who pays the price. My babies pay the price as well, they get worn out and stressed and when I’m worn out and stressed too, it’s a recipe for anything but happy holiday memories. And saying no can be especially hard if you have people who might not understand why you can’t do it all. Even those who have children can forget what it’s like to have super little ones. It’s just harder with kiddos! Trust me you’re not doing anything wrong, it’s just HARDER. So remember you’re not letting anyone down by saying no to things. You don’t have to say no to everything, but don’t feel bad when you choose to decline.img_1357
  4. Take breaks at events! This is easy for me right now since I’m breastfeeding my babies, it’s an excellent excuse to go hide in the guest room and let all three of us reset for a few minutes. No matter how much you love your group, that many people can be exhausting especially on little ones. (If you watched my last video post I talk a little bit about frazzled kids, click here if you haven’t watched it yet). Oh and lock the door when you do, just trust me on that one. If you’re not nursing, and don’t need to do a diaper change but still need to step away for a moment, don’t be afraid to do so. And honestly you don’t owe anyone an explanation, but feel free to say whatever it is that helps you feel ok to walk away a moment and no you don’t need to take Auntie Nosy with you unless you really want to. It’s ok to take a moment! Hide in the bathroom if necessary!
  5. Remember you and your spouse are a team. I think this one is SUPER important. I don’t know about you all, but holidays always seem to turn into a competition among family members of who spent more time with who. First of all, my husband and I decided that especially since we have kids now, we have to put our little family first. No more running around to seven different houses in one day. That stunk before kids! We also realized how easy it is to take out frustration on each other. Vehement accusations of ‘Your mom said’ and ‘your sister did’ help NO ONE. We decided on a ‘safe word’, (no not something bondage related!) but something we can say to each other to pour water on the fire and lighten the mood when things get heated. Sometimes in marriage you do have to remind yourselves that yes, you do still like each other and are both on the same team. Not every moment will be glamorous and full of happy feels, but it’s really important to remember you’re not mortal sworn enemies and that the person who currently seems to be infuriating you is still the one you fell in love with. Honey does go further than vinegar, especially for resolving spousal disputes. img_0972
  6. Remember it really is about the memories not the gifts. I know it sounds cheesy, but this is especially true for us right now. My husband is headed to medical school, we have one year old twins, we are currently living with my parents, suffice to say we aren’t packing the cash right now. I’d love to shower our families with gifts but it’s just not feasible at this time. And while I’d also love to make everyone cute jars of cookie mix or soup, I also quite literally don’t have the time. It doesn’t mean I don’t care. When my husband and I first started dating in college, we decided we wouldn’t do gifts, we would do something together instead. It works GREAT for us. That might not be the solution for you, and that’s of course ok, but for us it’s been huge. We go on a coffee date together or take a walk instead of frantically trying to find a Christmas or birthday gift. Since family members don’t always get that, we’ve had to (lovingly!) explain we do not want to participate in gift exchanges. Just because they can and we can’t doesn’t mean they’d understand that, or understand that while we want to, we just can’t right now. So we make memories for gifts. Now I’m not saying you cannot ever do gifts! Just try to remember that’s really not what it’s all about and take the pressure off yourself.
  7. Breathe. Seriously though. Try to pause and literally tell yourself to take a breath. For me sometimes that five seconds of stopping and purposefully breathing while possibly staring at the snow can make or break my survival of an afternoon.img_1358
  8. Don’t eat what you don’t want to. I love food. My husband loves food. We are hardcore foodies in every sense of the word. But we also are pretty diligent about what we eat and what our children eat. Now I’m not suggesting you put yourself under a strict law of never eating something you don’t normally, but don’t eat that gluten filled cake even though you know you’ll be sick later because you’re afraid of hurting Grandma’s feelings. I’m glutenfree, and every year without fail people ask me in shock, ‘you’re STILL gluten free?!’ Yes, indeed I am, and still stomach ache free too. It took me forever to not feel bad about not eating things people thought I should because I was afraid of causing offense. But put bluntly, if someone is making you feel bad because you don’t want to get sick, THEY are the ones causing offense! I’m not suggesting you ask everyone to accommodate your dietary choices, but don’t expect yourself to accommodate theirs either.
  9. Leave the event when you need to. Go home! Just because the party is five hours long and your kids are done after two doesn’t make you a bad person.
  10. This is pretty much a reiteration of the above suggestions. Basically, decide what is best for you and your family and stick to that decision. Don’t feel bad about it, or let anyone else make you feel bad. For example, if you decide that staying home and watching Pooh Bears Christmas is better for your family than going caroling tonight, that’s ok. Again, it doesn’t make you a heartless Cretan. It makes you wise, and prevents you from resenting whoever it is that wanted you to go. Alternatively, if you decide to go caroling make sure you’re doing it because you really want to, not out of guilt, and know that while it might be cold your kids will be ok. Bundle them up and sing loud!fullsizerender-2

Alright mamas, I want to hear from you. What do you do to help yourselves enjoy the holidays and stay sane?

One of “Those Days”…

imageWe all have them, those days that make us want to pull our hair out or hide under the bed and cry while guzzling wine and stuffing chocolate in our mouths. It doesn’t mean we’re bad moms, or that we have bad kids. Life as a human isn’t perfect every moment. And, we are all human, and various things in life happen as a human. Imperfect, hair pulling, loud, messy life things.

imageIt’s one of those imperfect days in my house. My children slept in, and, silly me, I foolishly thought that this predicted cheery moods and smiling faces. No, no, not so much, not today anyway. It began with my son not even wanting to be put down while I went to the bathroom, sobbing in a crumpled heap as if I had abandoned him on a remote island, while in reality he was squeezed on the floor between my legs for barely 30 seconds while I attempted to pee with the force of Niagara Falls in order to get the job done as quickly as possible.

imageMy poor miserably teething daughter fell asleep again moments after she had awakened, and as the day would tell, nothing soothed her gums but boob, boob, and more boob. Don’t get me wrong, I love nursing, and I’m very thankful to be able to shove boobs in babies mouths when the going gets tough, but I’ve spent today in a confusing state of constant dehydration while my eyeballs simultaneously float out of my head from needing to pee while being stuck under constantly nursing babies, and I’m also quite sure my nipples are no longer nipples for they’ve been sucked into sore raw straws, or possibly they may even be gone altogether. Frankly, I’m afraid to look.

Moments ago my son was enthusiastically waving a baby wipe around (it’s better than the dirty diaper I discovered he was swashing around prior, thankfully not a poopy one), and my daughter was yodeling her best imitation of “I’m a banshee being hung by my toenails” while I changed her diaper with the urgency of an Indy 500 pit stop. Currently they are in blissfully quiet repose, on my boobs of course. imageThe playroom is a wreck, there’s dirty laundry hiding in more crannies than I’m willing to admit, and my sustenance today has been a weird mix of peanut butter and chugged water, but, as my family likes to say, it’s 5:00 somewhere and if wine is dehydrating I guess I’ll just have to drink some extra to compensate. Here’s to you, mamas, and those days that do eventually end. Cheers!

Don’t Take My Babies

imageEver since time began, in many cultures, babies have simply just been with their mamas, whether that meant going to work or staying home. Wrapped on their mamas backs with cloth, or perhaps strapped on in a basket, depending on where they were from, it wasn’t considered weird or out of place that if you had a baby, they would be with you, wherever you went. Our current culture not only doesn’t support that line of thinking, but in my experience downright discourages it. There is immense pressure on women to return to work as soon as possible postpartum, and it’s practically unheard of that your child would be anywhere near you after you resume working.

imageAs I have mentioned before, due to financial reasons I went back to teaching when my twins were three weeks old. And I kept them with me while I taught. Did they cause disruptions? Of course they did at times, they are BABIES. But they learned to adapt, I wore them or had them nearby and we found our groove. As I taught long hours, I was ever so blessed to have my wonderful amazing parents to help, (mamas need their villages!) and sometimes they would stroll them or just play with them in another room to give them a break, but they were never apart from me for more than an hour. The majority of my student parents were understanding, but some were not. I received all manner of interesting feedback, ranging from “how do you focus” to “but really when will you put them in daycare? Don’t you want a break?” A break? I was working anyway. And I waited all my life for these kids. Why would I want to send them away? I want to raise my babies, I want to soothe their cries, see their smiles, watch their first steps. I’m going to blink and they will be off to college, and then they won’t be my babies anymore. imageAnd I need to work. I need to help provide for my family. I find it extremely frustrating that our society makes it difficult, and most of the time impossible, to merge the two.

I’m blessed to work for myself, it made it possible for me to make the decision that I would “bring” my babies to work. Not all women are so fortunate. Imagine bringing your baby to the average desk job, you’d be fired faster than a blink. Why is that?! I understand high risk jobs, places that are unsafe to have a child, but why can’t we as a society make it possible for parents to both support their families and raise their children themselves? Personally, I think it’s sad. You can’t even be in the same room as your child if you work at most day cares. What is that even about?! My husband and I recently moved back home to live with my parents for a while so we could cut our workweek down and have weekends off as a family (this subject merits two other posts, a hilarious one on living in a tiny house with six adults two babies and a cat/dog zoo, and an angry post on how ridiculous it is to make a living these days, standby for future postings). Being a piano teacher I am working on rebuilding my studio after our move, which takes time. Meanwhile, I’ve been doing odd jobs, one of which has been sign shaking on the street for my Aunt’s women’s gym. Definitely not a job I’d choose as a career path, but it’s been helping pay our bills for now. imageAnd I have my babies with me, in my wonderful TwinGo carrier. (If you have two small children, you need this carrier, just trust me). But back to the sign shaking. It’s exhausting waving a sign and carrying around 40 pounds of babies. For this admittedly out of shape mama, it’s meant sore muscles and aching back. But my point in discussing this is the reaction I’ve gotten from people.

Yes, I’ve been called a hero, applauded, sympathized with and encouraged. But I’ve also been the ever so fortuitous recipient of shocked looks, incredulity, and even harsh judgment. One lady went so far as to lean out of her car and scream horrible unkind words. “What kind of mother has her children out on the street?!” she shrieked, didn’t I know they were in the sun?! What I wished I had said was that I was doing whatever it took to put food on the table for my family, that my children were scrupulously sunscreened and at least they were at the one place in the world they wanted to be, with their mommy. Sadly I am never good in the moment and instead of answering her back I retreated hastily behind a tree to hide my tears. Yes, it’s hot out there. I’m careful to give them breaks and they’re not getting heat stroke. How many thousands of children in this world have survived strapped on their mamas back while working in the fields?! But having your children at work? Socially unacceptable, frowned upon, and shamed. Recently I’ve been applying for nanny positions in the effort of providing for my family while my studio rebuilds. And I have been TURNED DOWN for childcare positions because, wait for it…I would HAVE MY OWN CHILDREN WITH ME. I literally have had people fail to understand why I don’t have my children in childcare while I provide childcare to others. Y’all, that is weird. It just is.

And lately I’ve taken my own humble pill. I fully admit to my hatred of being invited to selling parties. No I don’t want to buy your candles/leggings/nail polish. But I have realized lately that most of these invitations are coming from mamas who are trying desperately to make an income without leaving their children. My mom and I started selling children’s books and in the next month will also be doing essential oils. Both are topics I am passionate on, and I have been frustrated by how many doors have been slammed in our faces. It’s meant for a “come to Jesus” moment for me. No longer will I fume at your party invites, I get it. I get how hard it is to be able to both work and be with your children.image

Imagine a world where not only did mamas get adequate maternity leave, but once they resumed work their children simply came with. What would that change? For pumping mamas, you could continue typing that email while sticking a baby on your boob. It could mean no longer choosing between taking a family weekend or paying for childcare that week. Would there be more interruptions in workflow? Of course. Would it mean an all over higher level of happiness for mom and baby and thus better life quality and work output overall? Could it positively affect the drastic rise in women experiencing postpartum depression? (Oh PPD, yet another topic on which I am passionate and will write about…)

What would it change for you mamas? Share your stories, maybe, just maybe, one day we can even make being a mama mainstream (again).

 

On the Nursing of Babes in Public

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imageWhen the twins were first born, I didn’t give much thought to the whole nursing in public thing. I did have to adjust quickly to feeding them in front of people as I went back to teaching three weeks postpartum (not out of preference) and at three weeks babies eat constantly. (Mine still seem to be doing that…but I digress). I used a cover while teaching and just sort of took it as it came. While aware of the #normalizebreastfeeding movement I didn’t give it much thought until later when I realized if I was to ever leave the house my exclusively breastfed babies were going to end up eating in front of a lot more people than just my students.

imageSo I invested in a second cover, this wonderful infinity scarf thing, and went on my merry way. It worked great, for a while, then my sweet nurslings started protesting the cover. They’d latch, get all comfy and the milk rolling, and then suddenly flail in panic like a crazed monkey with nine arms and there I was wet, vulnerable, exposed and squirting milk anywhere but my baby’s mouth while trying desperately to grab the cover that had somehow wrapped its way around my baby’s butt and my head. Not cool. I quickly realized it was time for Plan B. I tried the two shirt method. Instantly I had glorious results. While they would still pop off at the worst of times and I usually had a sliver of imageboob exposed (my daughter especially loves to hold the top shirt in the air and stare while she eats) I could quickly slide my top shirt down protecting my especially sensitive parts. Success.

While I did get a little psyched out reading the many horror stories shared on social media of nursing mamas getting shamed, having twins forced me to quickly change my mindset. Within a very short period of time, my boobs went from me perceiving them as a sacred and protected private part of my anatomy to a handy useful tool to be shoved in babies mouths at a moments notice no matter where I was or who was present. In short, I no longer gave a rats patoot.

imageYes I still use a cover when teaching and in situations where it’s not about me and might cause an issue (church, some weddings, etc) but now I nurse wherever, whenever, and I really do not care. Motherhood will force you to prioritize and let me tell you, my priority is my screaming baby not the general populace and their ever present opinion. And being a mommy, well it’s helped me take myself a LOT less seriously these days. I have fed these babies while walking through airports, festivals, in coffee shops, grocery shopping, on boats, in cars, while hiking, swimming and in pretty much every position and situation except standing on my head (which I have seen people do, but I am not that talented). imageThat much repetition of anything will get you over your nerves quickly. My boobs are for my babies, and my children matter more to me than anyone’s opinion.

And I’ve had a very positive experience for the most part. Just yesterday a woman approached me in Costco while I was feeding my daughter and told me I was a super hero. Of course I’ve received some negative looks and even some negative feedback from people I know, but for the most part it’s been smooth sailing. There will always be a naysayer, that’s life. No, I don’t go around flopping my boobs about freely and unrestrained, but once again, motherhood came through for me and shattered my previous idyllic and unrealistic mindset. The babies must eat, and short of me becoming a hermit, they’re going to eat in a vast majority of different places and in front of many different people.

imageAnd until we’re done nursing that means I’ll be feeding them in a zillion different situations. And really, what are we worried about? In a world of issues, how is nursing babies something that is worth picking on! If someone deems it worthy of their time to look down on me for nursing my baby I feel badly for them. Clearly they haven’t had a kiddo to rearrange their priorities enough. If my sitting on a park bench nursing my baby bothers you, go to the other side of the park. There are more benches. You can probably find someone else to stare at and condemn.

So go forth and feed those babies without fear, mamas. Your journey is about you and your baby, not anyone else. And really, if anyone is judging you for nourishing your child, clearly you’re not their problem.
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