Five Tips for Taking Professional Photos of Babies At Home, (and Why I Take Month to Month Photos!)

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As I told my husband, (silly as this might seem!) I have often worried about having TOO many pictures of the babies. In this age of smart phone cameras hardly a moment goes by without being recorded. Which is a BEAUTIFUL thing, but I have literally worried about being able to choose pictures to use at events such as their future graduations because can you even imagine HOW many pictures I will have by that point?! How will I ever choose?! SO, my solution to this has been to religiously take month to month photos. No matter their mood or the weather, we take a photo every single month on their month birthday. While at first I just wanted to record their growth, this has also become my solution to how in the world I will choose photos one day! Haha!

 

 

 

At first I tried to use the same chair every time but I soon realized that would not be sustainable. So, I decided to go with a blank background and blanket (or similar) and try to have them sitting for at least one shot. Over the last sixteen months, I have done a lot of trial and error and these are a few things that have helped me get (mostly!) consistent, model and Pinterest worthy, professional looking photos even with just my iPhone.

 

Continue reading Five Tips for Taking Professional Photos of Babies At Home, (and Why I Take Month to Month Photos!)

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

**GIVEAWAY CLOSED**Plum Organics Eat Your Colors Giveaway and Review

img_1666Like many naturally minded mamas, my plan was to make all my own baby food. And I did try, I still make some. But frankly, life is CRAZY and I just don’t have the time! So, while I am willing to bend on not making everything, I am not willing to compromise the quality of food my children eat. And I had suuuuuuuch a hard time finding clean, simple baby food! It was so disheartening to see all of the junk that is put in ‘natural’ baby food! Not to mention, wow does that stuff get expensive! To my relief, however, I found Plum Organics. And we LOVE them. They’re organic, clean, delicious and budget friendly! We especially love their new Eat Your Colors pouches! Check out my video below to see why! (And don’t forget to sign up for the giveaway! Details below!)

Plum Organics Giving Back Programs (click each for web link)

The Full Effect

B Corp

To Enter Giveaway:

(Winner will receive six total Eat Your Colors pouches, one each in red, orange, yellow, green, white and purple).

Follow @themamaplaybook and @plumorganics on Instagram

Like and repost the Original Instagram Giveaway Post or like and tag a friend in the comments

Subscribe to this blog (enter your email at the top of this page, those emails are how I will notify the winner!)

Giveaway closes Wednesday December 21st Midnight MST (winner will be notified via email and tagged on applicable social media accounts).

(sorry, US applicants only at this time!) Per Instagram rules, we must mention this is in no way sponsored, administered, or associated with Instagram, Inc. By entering, entrants confirm they are 13+ years of age, release Instagram of responsibility, and agree to Instagram’s term of use.

SnoofyBee Changing Pad Review

img_1538**DISCOUNT CODE AHEAD!! I will only, ONLY ever feature products on my blog that I have personally sought out and use and love. My heart in reviewing products is to be able to test drive them for you mamas, and then if I deem them worthy of your love, I will procure a discount code so you can enjoy them also<3**.

Months ago, I discovered a product called the SnoofyBee and have been wanting to get one ever since. A SnoofyBee is this incredible product that keeps babies hands safely out of their diapers at changing time while simultaneously keeping them entertained. No, I have no idea why I waited this long to get one. Simply put, as I know many babies do, my wee ones each LOVE to turn into a rabid octopus at changing time. Arms, hands, legs and whatever toy is nearby are doomed for a poopy demise. I mean seriously how do they somehow seem to sprout six extra limbs suddenly?! Short of sitting on them I’ve been at a loss as to how in the world to keep them out of the mess at changing time. Clothing, toys, baby and me often get wiped out. But! Enter the SnoofyBee! Mine arrived this week, and all I can say is, HOW DID I EVEN GET THROUGH DIAPER CHANGES before! Mamas, you need this. Dads, you need this. Every parent grandparent aunt and uncle needs this. Seriously, it’s worth every penny and henceforth shall be my go to baby gift (and a cost effective one at that!). Please enjoy my demonstration below, then click here to shop and use code THEMAMAPLAYBOOK for 10% off!!!

 

Every Baby Is an Individual! And, Let them be Little

img_1335As I have said frequently, there is nothing like parenting to change your most carefully laid plans. It is astonishing how easily these tiny little humans change everything, and challenge literally everything that you thought you knew. Being a parent requires flexibility, humility and patience, and trust me that your beautiful little beings will work their completely unconscious hardest to make certain they teach you these lessons every day. Being a parent can be so overwhelming, here you are with this fragile new life doing everything you think is the best for them and questioning EVERYTHING you do. And then things seem to not be working, doubt enters your head and you are assaulted with a million different opinions as to what you’re doing wrong. Why won’t my baby sleep like that/eat this way/play like that?! Why aren’t they crawling/walking/talking yet? Well, there are no babies who are exactly alike. They each will develop in their own way on their own schedule. I CANNOT STRESS THAT ENOUGH. Just because one baby crawls at 7 months doesn’t mean there is necessarily anything wrong with the other baby who crawled at 11 months.

Two things that frustrate me intensely about our culture are the curve expectations placed on children and the competition that exists (even subconsciously!) among us mothers. When my twins were about 5 months old a friend nonchalantly asked me how far behind the curve twins normally are. While I’m certain she meant no harm, it sent me into a bit of a tailspin. Were they too behind?! Should they be doing more?! And please understand, I absolutely advocate intervention in serious cases of developmental delay, but the facts are that acute delays are not the norm and most of the time your baby is just fine.
img_1340So what if your baby started sitting up two months after your friends baby did?! Maybe your kid will talk first. Maybe they won’t. Chances are though that your baby is doing great, and that sweet little human is going to do things when they’re dang good and ready. A friend posted that her son was FINALLY accomplishing a milestone and my heart broke for her. Clearly something or someone had caused her to feel he was behind. Which he isn’t, at all. He’s simply doing things as he is ready. This should be celebrated, not judged.

img_1339Why do we push our babies and children so much?! You know, I am without doubt all for educational enrichment. I read to my babies, they listen to a wide variety of music and languages and I choose many toys based on their educational value. But I also let them chew on the books, listen to happy silly songs, and play with brightly colored rolling ducks. We dance and wave our arms and make silly noises. I believe teaching JOY is equally as important as learning the alphabet. They are learning every moment whether you are teaching them or not. But what are they learning? That they are competent and smart? That they are capable of learning anything they want and can actually enjoy doing so and become confident in the process? Or are they having it pounded into their wee heads that they aren’t learning enough, or as quickly as they should? That their friend is better/faster/smarter?img_1342

I don’t like the competition I see so often (especially on social media!) among mothers on whose child did what first. Of course I think every mother should see her child as amazing, (I talk more about that in this post, click here). But as possibly new and insecure mamas, we do not need to see our friends bragging (even if they don’t mean to cause harm!) about how their child is so superior and advanced and thus question if our own babies are doing ok. A friend posted a while back that after her baby had his pediatric checkup their doctor said her five month old was “basically functioning at the level of a year old baby” and that the doctor called him “Baby Thor”. This made me have to work with my head that my also five month old babies were doing alright since their doctor did not call them baby thors and they were definitely not functioning at a year old level. I call this type of thing “brag shaming”. And I’m sure this mama didn’t mean to, she was genuinely proud of her son as she should be. But I’d like to offer this for consideration. Be proud of your wee ones. But be sensitive to the fact that your seemingly innocent post about how advanced your kiddo is might make another mama question if her also absolutely perfect baby is doing ok.img_1341

And you know what? Your baby is only little once. While I FIRMLY support and believe in practicing involved parenting and actively teaching them, our culture has placed such a rush on growing them up fast and forcing them to become competent little humans as quickly as possible. (And I’m well aware this isn’t just our culture). I absolutely will teach my children respect, how to focus, self discipline, social decorum and how to behave politely as the situation may demand, but I will also let them shriek and run, play with abandon, and cry on my lap. They don’t need to practice algebra at two and play Mozart by three. If they end up doing so, great. But I’m not going to ruin their childhood by pushing them until they’re miserable. I was chatting with one of my piano student parents the other night and she shared that her daughters school wants to place her in the gifted program, and while they want to give her more, they’re not going to push her past what she wants to do. I have SO much respect for them. This child, she is balanced, she is wicked smart, she is motivated and driven, she is HAPPY. She has focus, confidence, and empathy well beyond her years. And her mother is wise in giving her as much as she wants without ruining her thirst for knowledge by shoving too much down her throat. This child is one of my best students. Never once has she said “that’s too hard” or “I can’t”. She’s happy and focused and a delight every lesson.

img_1336If a child is taught to love learning, without fear, and views new concepts as exciting and not scary, they’re far more likely to be motivated to push themselves to do more, to do better, in confidence and on their own, without having us ride them and make them miserable. A child is born looking at the world in wonder. We have a tremendous responsibility to teach them about this world without destroying that starry eyed fascination. It took a little while for my babies to crawl. Could I have done more tummy time, or pushed them harder so they would crawl faster? Absolutely. Did they crawl when they were ready? Of course they did! I now have speed demons blasting all over everything, my son just the other day went fearlessly four wheeling over rocks by the river. In my opinion the extra tears and stress of lots of tummy time wasn’t worth it. We did tummy time of course, but only as long as I could read to them and keep it a mostly happy experience while we did. I did not deem the frustration and intense tears to be worth them crawling a few weeks earlier.

img_1338Of course we cannot prevent all frustration. Not every learning experience will leave them filled with happiness and wanting more. But I believe that if they have this foundation of confident joy filled learning, they can handle the not so glorious moments.

I was homeschooled growing up. A tremendous sacrifice my mother made for her children, and a gift I will be forever grateful for. While ensuring I had a balanced education, she allowed me to pursue subjects I was passionate about and patiently allowed me to conquer those I was less than interested in as I grew. For example, for a while I was obsessed with phonics. I completed more phonics workbooks and projects than most people do in a lifetime. Math, on the other hand, was not my favorite. But she experimented until she found what I connected with, a way to learn that didn’t scare the pants off of me or make me feel stupid. And we did do tests, she prepared us for this real world of college testing and scary expectations. But because I had that foundation of joy, that love of learning, I was able to face the scarier real world and conquer it.

I firmly believe this concept also applies to emotional growth and understanding, but I’ll save that for another post.

img_1337In closing, my dear fellow mamas, please don’t allow our social media and culture to make you question your baby or yourself. We are all doing the best we can, trust in your child and allow them to bloom on their own schedule. They’re only little once, celebrate these moments and don’t allow fear to rob you (and your child!) of the joy of watching them grow and thrive according to their own personal schedule.

 

The Birth Story of Harry and Arabella-Part Two

 

 

img_0549In preface to this post, I want to reiterate my firm belief that every mama and baby are different. What I chose for mine may be radically different than what you chose. Not only is that ok, I think it’s tremendously important. I will never judge you for your choices just as I expect to not be judged for mine. Or, as I’ve said before, human nature is to judge. I may judge in my heart but I’m keeping it to myself as should we all. Unless a child is in danger, what mamas need from each other is SUPPORT. To be able to share our learned wisdom and mutually benefit. I have chosen this path for my family because I strongly believe it to be the best one, as I am certain that is how you have chosen yours. I pray to be able to share perspectives among one another without shaming, I know I have drastically changed decisions in the past thanks to other mamas sharing their knowledge with me. I am an opinionated, naturally minded mama. And proud of it. Be proud of yourselves mamas, and I hope you enjoy part two of our birth story. The tale of a stubborn naturally minded mama who managed to infuriate nearly everyone on the pediatric floor of the hospital we birthed at. This is Day Two in the lives of Harry and Arabella.

img_0486The rest of November 8th is a fuzzy blend of blank spots and poignant memories, a sea of haziness with bright stars shining through. I don’t remember what I ate, I remember being voraciously thirsty and not being allowed to just guzzle liquid, instead I was spoon fed crushed ice and given small sips of orange juice (nothing has ever tasted better!). Immediately after the twins were born the barrage of unwanted requests for procedures on the twins began. No, we don’t want the eye ointment, no we are not circumcising him. (Not circumcising was a surprise decision we made late in the game, if you’re interested as to why we chose no circumcision for our son I’d be more then happy to share, comment below or send me an email).

fullsizerenderIt continued to be a battle. No you cannot give them that/no you cannot take them to the nursery we want them in the room with us. That one made me hugely popular, (not), especially when I followed my babies to the nursery for the car seat test, which we acquiesced to as they wouldn’t let us leave without it. I was up until 2:00am the day of my babies birth due to my refusal to be apart from my newborns. I regret nothing. My husband and I did have a beautiful morning together the following day, while it was periodically interrupted we had a few moments to just sit there alone, the two of us with our new family, soaking in the moments and trying to realize what had just happened. (Which is something I struggled with for a while, if you haven’t read it yet I shared my heart in my battle with PPD in a previous post, click here to read it).

img_0487My husband was my brave knight in shining armor, standing up for me and our babies against the surprisingly aggressive nurses on the pediatric floor. I missed my labor and delivery nurses soooooo much once they transfered us. Having never been hospitalized I had this naive notion that I would be able to relax for a day or two, snuggle my babies and just eat. Ha. Reality was that I wasn’t fed, no one brought me even liquid, they kept coming in every 15-20 minutes to wake and poke my babies and yell at me (literally!) for not writing down every breastfeeding session. Had I not been holding my babies and letting them nurse almost constantly I would have understood their concern. But as my babies were nursing nearly non-stop and frankly I was starving and foggy and stunned, I decided writing down “still nursing” every thirty minutes was not worth it. Eventually I got so irritated with their attitudes I admit I refused to out of spite. img_0485Yes, you can safely assume I was not their favorite patient. I wouldn’t do the tests, I wanted to change my own babies diapers (why is that weird?!) and I just wanted to go home. So I did. I demanded an early release and the minute we informed the staff we wanted to go home that day, wouldn’t you know everyone suddenly disappeared.img_0482

No one answered our help button, and our room went from resembling a chaotic train station to a vacant ghost town. My poor husband had to track down what felt like hundreds of people to sign and deal with the voluminous amount of paperwork required to effect our release. It literally took all day, we didn’t leave the hospital until after 9 that night. I have never felt so judged and shamed as I did with the looks and comments we received as we headed home with our wee ones in their giant car seats. I did get to avoid the usually mandatory wheelchair ride out of the hospital as the nurses were so angry at me they were busy fuming and messing with the babies. We also had to agree to a mandatory weight check appointment with our pediatrician the img_0488following day, (an appointment that nearly destroyed my breastfeeding journey, watch my video on my feelings on the breastfeeding support that new moms receive by clicking here).

But eventually, we were headed home and yes, we must have checked that our babies were still breathing every thirty seconds. My family had gone home a little bit before us and never have I ever walked into anything as welcome as the paradise they made. img_0544My mother had prepared an Italian feast, wine awaited us, candles were lit everywhere and it was warm and peaceful. A radical change from the hospital environment we had just left and desperately needed comfort for this exhausted and struggling mama. I sank into the soft warm blankets and snuggled with my cuddly (and to my relief, happily accepting of the babies) cats, stared at these beautiful tiny new faces that had just come out of my BODY, and breathed deeply.img_0548

I still wasn’t prepared and had no idea how to deal with the influx of attention that happens when you have a baby. Everyone, EVERYONE wants to see you, well not you, the baby/babies. In hindsight, I plan on a lockdown next time I have a baby. I don’t believe birth is a medical crises but I DO believe it is something which absolutely requires, and deserves, time to adjust and heal from. But I’ll write more on that later.

In conclusion, I want to encourage you mamas to not be afraid to stand up for and demand what you feel is best for you and your baby. I know it was the right thing to come home early, it wasn’t easy, but we made it happen. Maybe it would be different next time, and such is birth. And had my babies had medical needs that required attention, obviously I would have stayed. But they didn’t. What they needed was me to be able to give them my all, and I knew in order to do that I had to get home where I would be cared for and feel safe. To get where I could bond with them and they with me and my husband.

Best laid plans inevitably change. Especially where children are involved. And that is ok. But never be afraid to stand by your decisions. Mamas almost always know best, and unless you plan on bunking in a snowbank with your newborn, I’d say you should have faith in yourself. You did make that human. Roll up your sleeves, mama bears, these are our cubs, and being with mama is really the main thing they need and truly all they want.

Click each link below for posts on:

postpartum recovery

the fourth trimester

breastfeeding support

breastfeeding in public

wine and boobs

and…

my opinions on coping with the “Everyone Comes out of the Woodwork Invasion Phenomenon” when you have a baby.img_0545

Mamas Have Needs Too?! Or, Self Care is Haaaaard

img_9806Self care is hard. As a mama, it’s literally almost impossible sometimes. They say you can’t pour from a cup that’s empty but sometimes as a mom that is just what you have to do. Sometimes my kids don’t sleep, so I don’t sleep, and you know what? When they wake up the next morning I don’t get to just ignore them while I catch up on my zzz’s! Nope! They need fed, diapers changed and someone to watch them so they don’t knock out a tooth or stab out each other’s eyes. And yep, I am that person!
Sometimes I don’t get that glass of water or get to pee in a timely fashion because my babies have needs that can’t wait. Call me crazy but it’s really hard to go to the bathroom when my son is screaming because he pooped his diaper and it’s burning his little butt. So I change his diaper, and then eventually, I get to pee. Typically with a kid on my lap (or two). And as you might know from my last post, (click here to watch my rant on sharing love not germs) I just finished having the stomach flu. And nope, motherhood didn’t ‘pause’ whilst I fought that nasty virus.
I used to lecture my mom on self care. I still do sometimes since her kids are adults and she still doesn’t care for herself as she should. But, being a mom myself, I get why she doesn’t. Someday my kids will be adults and I I’ll probably need the self care lecture because let’s face it mamas, decades of a habit is hard to break. img_9796
And you know, I chose to bring these little beings into the world, they didn’t really have a say in it. So I don’t think it’s unfair that their needs are put before mine. That doesn’t mean though that some days aren’t so hard I want to cry, and sometimes I just want to eat my dinner without it getting slapped to the floor or shoveling it in my mouth at a race rocket pace. It doesn’t mean I don’t love my kids, or that I don’t want them more than anything. It doesn’t make me a bad mom that I look at photos of women with their hair and makeup done, their cute jeans obviously freshly washed and feel a pang of absence of my self worth.
Motherhood is HARD. Do I love it? With all my heart. Is it worth it?! Without question! I wouldn’t trade being a mama for ANYTHING. But. It. Is. Hard. So hard. Being the primary caregiver to tiny humans is no joke. There are literally lives DEPENDING on you, 24/7! HUMAN. LIVES. Whether or not your child survives let alone thrives is all on YOU. That’s one heck of a privilege and responsibility y’all.

img_9677I’m trying to remember to do little bits of self care when I can. Having a third cup of coffee (even if it gets cold), taking the extra 30 seconds to not only rip the ponytail off my head before bed but actually brush my hair, putting on a quick show for the babies so I can wash my face without screaming in the background. These things seem small but mamas you know, those small things are the first to go when you’re prioritizing your moves like a military captain for efficiency.
This won’t be my last post on self care, so tell me, what do you find is YOUR biggest challenge as a mama in caring for you? Let me know in the comments!

Hang in there mamas, and go buy some wine, I prefer the big bottles. A glass may help (I find it heavenly, and yes you can have it even if you’re breastfeeding!!!!). But I’ll go off on that later.fullsizerender

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).