It’s Gonna Be Alright… Somehow

In 36 minutes, as I start this post, President Obama will no longer be my president. Our president. In my opinion, the best president of my lifetime, and one of the best overall.

I worry. I worry for my babies. I worry for my husband. I worry for my friends and family. I worry for POC, I worry for women, I worry for the LGBTQ community. I worry.

I worry to the point of tears. And yet I don’t wish to spill any tears.

I don’t know what to do. How do I explain this to my kids, who are too young to have any clue, but will one day ask what went wrong?

I don’t know. I don’t know how to explain why our country failed us. Why in 2016, we can still watch a woman, the most qualified presidential candidate in the history of our country, lose the election to an old white guy who is so under qualified that he literally has no experience. That his winning was due to treasonous acts within our own country and abroad.

I’m just sick over it. This is how dystopia starts. With tweets and lies and under qualified individuals running the country like a board game.

I have never been so embarrassed to be an American.

I went to Paris, France in January of 2009. So many Parisians asked me about President Obama and celebrated with me. His picture was everywhere.

I’d try to hide my accent if I went now.

What do I tell my babies?

Thank God they’re still small enough for that parental protective cocoon.

It’s gonna be alright.

Right?

Advertisements

Will My Whiteness Keep You Safe?

To the one I know now and the one who isn’t here yet:

My sweet babies.

You both are products of love. Your Mommy and Daddy met, became best friends, then learned to love. We created an unbreakable bond and decided to reinforce it with marriage. But before that, we decided to have you, Oliver. We knew you were next, Amelia.

That was part of our privilege. It took many, many years before people like us could get married. Many years of people being beaten, marching, dying. People just wanting to openly love who they love without any repercussions. It’s such a simple desire. A desire that so many people were able to partake of without a second thought. Still, as I said, it took many, many years before people like us could marry. We were and are very lucky to be able to do so.

Now I sit here and watching you play, Oliver. You lean against the couch, playing a game on the iPad, wearing only a diaper. You are definitely a naked baby. Your messy, brown curls crown your head with a bouncing texture like mine. Your muscular back, like your dad’s, arches and bows in anticipation and excitement as you play. You have the most beautiful caramel colored skin from both of us.

When people see you they either comment on your curls or your hair.

“That hair, though!”
“How do you not run your fingers through those curls all day?!”
“I love his hair! Don’t ever cut it!”
“He has the prettiest complexion.”
“Oh, what pretty skin.”

I wonder when that will stop. When will your identifiers no longer be cute? When will your identifiers become something negative? When will people start seeing you as black instead of biracial? Will they? Will having my whiteness be enough to keep your safe? Will having my whiteness allow you to walk down the street safely? Will it help you to get home safely? Will you be able to keep warm in a hoodie? Will you be able to stand outside and play with toy weapons? Will you be able to sell things for a club or team you’re on?

When will everyone stop wanting your hair and your skin color, and start judging you for it? I know you will have it far, FAR easier than most. I know this. I’m selfishly glad for this. It gives me hope that you will end up with some type of privilege to keep you safe, because that is unfortunately what’s needed nowadays. It’s heartbreaking to know and even worse to admit. But you’re my son and I want you and your soon-to-be sister to be safe. Whatever it takes.

This isn’t a world I want for the both of you. I want to say it’ll change. That we’ll all make it better for you and Amelia. But I can’t promise that. I read somewhere today that nothing has changed, but the presence of smart phones. That’s very true. We thought things were changing, but they haven’t. It’s just easier to capture now. The act. The people. The victims. We can all see it now. We aren’t reading or hearing words, we’re watching and hearing videos. We’re seeing last breaths being taken, family members crying and begging. It’s more real than it has ever been.

And I worry for the both of you. My sweet babies. I want y’all to grow up free from worry. I don’t want to have to teach you how to talk to police officers or how to act around them. I don’t want the lesson for y’all to be different than it is for a white person. I grew up thinking police officers were so cool and so brave. I want you to think that too. I don’t want you to be afraid. I still have hope. It may be a naive hope, but it is there. I’ll never stop hoping and I’ll never stop spreading the word. I will always be an ally for people of color. My heart is absolutely held by people of color. My world. I promise to do whatever I can to keep y’all safe. To keep others safe.

That’s what my whiteness provides. Safety and privilege. It’s my job to use it to protect all of you to the very best of my ability. I’m going to teach y’all how to protect others too.

The work has been started. Depending on how you look at it, who knows when it began, but y’all have a small piece of the world behind you. A great community of people. Together, we can all make a difference. I don’t know how big or small, but a difference will be made.

 

Will You Be On My Side?

Have you ever been embarrassed? Nervous? Anxious? Of course you have, right? Now, bear with me a bit here…

Have you ever worn a bathing suit, or any article of clothing that was somewhat revealing, and felt a bit… embarrassed? Nervous? Anxious? I truly hope you haven’t, because you’re beautiful just the way you are, however that’s not the soapbox I’m aiming for right now. My gut tells me that several of you probably have. It’s okay, I have too… but bear with me further.

Have you ever been out to eat with friends and suddenly felt funny about what you were eating or the amount you were eating? Maybe you were embarrassed, nervous, or anxious? Again, I hope not, because your body is your own and you are more than entitled… yet again, I’d wager most of us have had a funny feeling of some sort.

I hate these feelings. They’re terrible. I know part of them come from society, but WE are society, so WE need to work on changing that. Still, change doesn’t come easy, but those funny feelings do. None of us should ever feel uncomfortable with what we’re wearing, male or female. It shouldn’t matter what others think, so long as we are physically and mentally comfortable with that clothing. Right? Who cares if you have a large chest, ladies. Fellas, I don’t care about the chest hair or lack thereof. Dimples somewhere other than your face? Just means you’re extra comfy to lean against, if you ask me. Think your legs are too slim or bony? Whatevs! You are wonderful! Your body isn’t “too” anything.

The same with what we eat. Who cares if you want to order a super nacho with a large whatever and extra sour cream on the side (because I would TOTALLY do that right now, if I could). It is your body. I don’t care if you worked out before, after, or if you plan to at all. Your life, your body. Do what you want with it. Your taste buds are no doubt rejoicing and I’m going to rejoice with you, because no matter what anyone thinks, you are entitled to that delicious meal no matter your age, size, ethnicity, or what have you.

Personally, and it’s a personal choice, I feel most comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, or lounge pants (what I consider pj pants, yoga pants or some equivalent) and a t-shirt. For pool/beach time, I’m most comfortable in either a bikini or a one-piece. Really depends on how well it supports the girls. I also prefer to have a cover up to wear over it when I’m not in the water. That is my comfort zone. Food-wise? I just want it in my belly, if we’re being completely honest. I hardly care how it gets there or what the portion sizes are.

So… what am I getting at?

Well…

I need your help with something. I need you, however many of you may be reading this… I need you on my side. I have many of you on my side already, but pretty soon, I may need a few or several more.

See, I’m about to have another baby. I plan on breastfeeding that baby just like I did with her brother. Actually, just like I still do with her brother. He’s almost 3, so we’re mostly down to sleepy times, therefore it isn’t seen by hardly anyone but my husband and mom. However, this new baby will be a brand new little squish. She will come out super hungry and she will come out wanting her mama’s milk not now, but RIGHTNOW.

She won’t come out caring how she gets it. She’ll only care when. She will want her needs met and she’ll want them met immediately. As her mother, I will choose to feed her on demand, meaning she won’t adhere to a schedule I’ve set for her, but rather one she’ll end up setting for herself. I will not pump for her right away. Although, I have ordered a pump through my insurance and it sits in a box in her room, there’s always the chance I may not respond well to the breast pump. If I do, it won’t replace from the breast breastfeeding, but it will be helpful on days I have errands or dates with the husband. Therefore, my goal will be to nurse her straight from the breast as often as necessary.

The thing is, in doing so, I won’t be using a cover. See, I tried to use one with Oliver, because at the time that’s where MY comfort level was. Oliver had other plans. He let me know very quickly that HIS comfort level meant no nursing cover, and no part of my tshirt touching any part of my breast, because he wanted his hand to touch it instead. So there I’d sit, desperately trying to pull my shirt back down on my breast, while my surprisingly strong infant would shove it up to my neck with all his might. THAT was embarrassing. Those situations made me nervous… even anxious. Sometimes I would worry about where I was headed, because I knew if he wanted to nurse, he’d have to have his way.

What if our struggle drew attention? What if someone said something? What if someone made an ugly face? What if someone was ugly TO me? What if someone suggested I go feed him in the bathroom? What if someone suggested I cover myself… even though I was trying to? What if someone said I could feed him later? What if what if what if?

I need you on my side. I need you to be on every nursing mother’s side. Can you please do that for me? For the babies? For the moms? For all of us?

Can you see us and realize that we’re doing our very best? That maybe our baby isn’t hip to the unfair societal expectations and really could not care less about how much mama’s breast is exposed? Maybe they’re like Oliver is/was and are so hot natured that the idea of being covered by ANYTHING is downright revolting. He doesn’t even like being covered with a sheet at bedtime, if that tells you anything. My babies are summer babies. Can you imagine simply sitting underneath a thick sheet for more than 5 minutes in the summer? Really, any time of year. That feeling as the air around you gets thicker from breathing of hot air. After a few minutes you come out from underneath the sheet and the difference in temperature is so immediate that you wonder how you didn’t notice it before.

Babies need to be fed. Some mothers choose to breastfeed their babies. We need your support. A simple smile or a nod of acknowledgement that you’re on our side can work wonders. I cannot explain to you what that boost of confidence feels like when you’re feeling as though you’re a huge bullseye. When we’ve already had people who are topless, in bikinis, low cut shirts, or tight pants giving us dirty looks for having the top of our breast exposed. After some time, I could usually convince Oliver to let me keep my shirt down, so the only part of my breast you’d see was the part you’d have to put your nose against… because you couldn’t see it unless you were that close! I promise you, there have been times where you had no idea someone was nursing. We’ve gotten really good at hiding it.

Let me say that again: We’ve gotten really good at hiding it.

Isn’t that horrible? That we have learned how to hide the fact we’re feeding our children. That we are using our breasts for the reason they were put on our bodies. That the natural act of nourishment is considered so unnatural by a lot of society. It hurts my heart. It hurts my heart for the first time moms and parents who haven’t built a thick skin, and frankly, shouldn’t have to. It hurts my heart for those who gave up so quickly, because they weren’t supported in public or even by family. Because, yes, even family and friends don’t want it done “in their home.” As if we’re taking our tops off and swinging them around our heads.

Do you remember how you felt earlier when reading the top of this post? Those feelings of embarrassment, nervousness, and anxiety for doing very simple, basic, entitled things, like… wearing what you want, exposing however much skin you want, eating what you want, and however much you want? Could you empathize? Have you had those feelings before? If you have… can you please try to relate them to breastfeeding a baby?

How are they different? Choices are involved in every scenario I mentioned. Rights and entitlements were involved in every scenario I mentioned.

There are no differences.

There are no differences.

None.

Let our babies eat. Support me. Support other mamas. Support breastfeeding. Please help me normalize breastfeeding. It is the very best thing for some babies. It is the very best thing for some mamas too (side story at the bottom).

Will you be on OUR side?

(Quick Side Story: Oliver breastfed and was supplemented with formula, which is why I am a firm believer in FED is best. Who cares if it’s formula or breastmilk, just feed all the babies! With that said, I had PPA (postpartum anxiety) horribly bad, as well as PPD (postpartum depression), and nursing Oliver was like a drug for me. It release a hormone called oxytocin in your body, which would feel like a wave of relief and peace anytime I nursed him during those difficult times. So, yes, breastfeeding is definitely beneficial to both. Not to mention the bonding that can occur during nursing time)

 

 

 

 

Your Daddy is Really Awesome

You may not  know this yet, but your Daddy is really awesome.

I mean, of course you think he’s awesome, but your level of awesome is different than mine. Right now, you see your Daddy exactly as you should. You see him as a strong, playful, energetic, amazing person who can pick you up and spin you around, teach you funny dances and phrases, and do things with you until you get tired.

I see your Daddy as someone who keeps us safe, provides for us, makes sure we have everything we need, loves us, is kind to us, and makes us happy. Seeing you happy with him makes me happy. Seeing the relationship y’all have with each other makes me way more than happy, actually. I’m not sure there’s a word for that feeling you get in your chest when you see two people you love so very much, love and enjoy each other.

I know you know where your Daddy works. You know he has a classroom and that he has a lot of kids in his room that get excited to see you and play with you. You know many of his colleagues and his boss, and you look forward to visiting his job all of the time. What you may not know is that, while Daddy gets extra time to himself during the summer, he isn’t really “off” like many people think.

See, your Daddy is always trying to learn and grow. He doesn’t settle for anything. On top of that, he loves us so much that he wants to make us as comfortable as possible while I stay home with you and continue to help your baby sister grow. What this means is that while Daddy has more time away from work, he still has things to do, and many of those things happen outside of our home.

You woke up this morning really sad, as you have for the last few mornings. We always seem to underestimate how much you understand. You’re almost 3 after all! We know you are so smart, but sometimes you surprise us! It turns out, you’re very aware that Daddy doesn’t have normal work hours. That he, in fact, has been home more and that he’s had more opportunities to spend time with us. So, you’ve been waking up a bit confused and upset when you realize he isn’t home. Bud, I felt so bad for you this morning. You woke up happily singing “No More Monkey’s Jumping on the Bed,” then jumped off the bed yourself to go find Daddy… and he wasn’t there. You came back crying, laid beside me and said you “wost Daddy.” I’ve tried to explain to you every day that Daddy isn’t lost. He’s just working. Daddy is being the very best Daddy to you and your little sister. While the days seem long to you, they’re actually very short! He’s working half days, giving kids extra help with their academics this summer. See, they didn’t accomplish all that they wanted to during the school year, so they’re trying extra hard this summer, so they can be ready when school starts back. On top of that, he’s tutoring older kids and adults who need a bit more understanding. Your Daddy loves helping people and he loves helping others learn. He’s wanted to have this job since he was young and now he’s living out that dream!

I can’t wait to see what dreams of yours become reality. I know this is a hard time for you, but one day you will realize that by Daddy living out his dream, it’ll make it possible for you to live out yours. I’m living out mine, too. I’ve always dreamt of having you and your sister, and now I get to live that every single day.

It’s so hard to understand, I know, but your Mimi and Nana worked so hard to make sure Mommy and Daddy could live out their dreams, and now we’re working so hard to make sure you and baby sister can live out yours when you’re older.

I promise you that Daddy isn’t lost. He’s very much found, and you can find him helping people and loving you. As a matter of fact, I told him how your morning went and he changed his schedule for tomorrow so he could spend extra time with you. You are so important. You are more important than his dream, than any job he takes or any money he makes. You and your happiness trumps all, and we are fortunate enough that Daddy’s summers allow for wiggle room so he can spend time with his favorite little fella.

We love you so much. You’re our first thought in the morning and our last at night. As the years go on and you grow, please always remember that we love you so.

You Don’t Fit Your Children Around Your Life, You Fit Your Life Around Your Children

I have been looking forward to the new sermon series at church so much. However, sometimes things don’t always go according to planned.

No other children in the nursery coupled with a fairly rough morning for Oliver meant zero patience with being left in the nursery. It happens, I know. However, I didn’t even know he was upset until I was on my way to the children’s room to ask Jhavonn a question. That’s when I heard Oliver having a crying meltdown with hiccups and everything saying “I wost Mama. I wost Mama.” (wost = lost)

Oh, my heart. It broke.

I gave him about a minute, just to make doubly sure I was needed and understanding his cry, and that my hormones weren’t getting the best of me, before I walked in. When I entered the nursery, I saw him sitting on the couch in the adjoining room. I’m not sure why he was sitting there, but maybe he wanted to be alone. He saw me and didn’t even react immediately. Just looked at me with silent hiccups shaking his tiny body.

Did I  mention my heart broke?

I wondered what was going through his mind. Disbelief? Did he think I wouldn’t come for him? Shock? That I was finally there? I don’t know. I found it strange that his reaction was to wait a moment and gauge the situation before jumping up and coming to me. When he did, I sat in a chair and he crawled into my lap. His crying stopped and all that remained were hiccups and a few sad mumbles. It took a while for us to understand why he was so upset (again, probably the lack of friends to distract). After several minutes he was ready to get down and play like usual, which was reassuring.

I don’t fault Ms. Marilyn and Jhavonn for saying he’d be fine and trying to help him calm down without getting me. Instead, I’m incredibly thankful that I had a question for Jhavonn that led me to head back toward that part of the church. It would have absolutely broken my heart to know that he cried himself into calmness. That he would have soothed himself by thinking I wasn’t coming for him. This isn’t a kid who just didn’t want to be in the nursery. This is a kid who has recently begun recovering from separation anxiety. Just this month he began staying in the nursery on his own after 2 years of having one of us in there with him every Sunday. I figure this could’ve been a test for him, or it could’ve been a test for me/us. I rather it be one for me/us. I know that there will be times when he’s in preschool or something, when he wants me and he’s upset, and I won’t always be able to go and get him. I might never know he had an upsetting time.

But for the times I do know, I want him to have me.

I want him to have me come to him, if he so desires, so he can be reassured and comforted. I don’t want him to discover after 30-45 min that I’m not “wost,” but in another room. I want him to know immediately that I will do what I promised. That I will come right back and that I really am just down the hall. I hope that doing something like that will help him during the times I’m not down the hall, but across town and possibly unable to come get him. He needs to know that I’m where I say I am. That if I say he can come to me or if he needs me, that I can make it happen. So when I tell him I’ll be back when the little hand on the clock hits 2, or that I’ll be back after snack time, that I will, in fact, be back around that time.

Some people may think this is spoiling him. People will think all sorts of things. I really don’t care, though. I try to envision how others view this method of parenting, just so I can understand, but this is what works for us.

Quick story, as a result of a house fire when I was 9 years old, I had debilitating separation anxiety. I could hardly function at school and would beg and cry on the way for mom to keep me home. I was so afraid to leave her. I think that separation anxiety is what eventually planted the roots for the panic attacks and severe anxiety that I developed a couple of years later.

Even though his separation anxiety is development based, it doesn’t make it any less scary for him. To him, it’s terrifying. To him, Jhavonn and I are never coming back. We’re lost. He doesn’t know that he’ll get past this stage. He doesn’t know that it’s normal. It’s up to us to know those things and help him find the finish line, so he can be a confident child who is capable of doing things on his own in his own time. It isn’t about convenience or inconvenience. We gave up the concept of that when we made the choice to have children.We are firm believers in changing your life when you have children. You don’t fit your children around your life. You fit your life around your children.

So, while I may have missed the start of the sermon series, I think I found a different way to worship and give thanks this morning. I did what I was called to do. Be a mom. I tended to him in his time of need. I comforted him. I consoled him. I gave him confidence and hopefully a bit of understanding. I have not been very patient with him lately, but today I was full of patience. I was not angry, I was not tired, I was not frustrated. A bit sad to miss the sermon, of course, but I felt like I was absolutely where I needed to be in that moment in time.

You don’t fit God or your children around your life. You fit your life around God and your children.

To My First Born, My Favorite Little Fella

To my first born, my favorite little fella. My curly headed, brown-eyed, energetic, sweet, loving, hilarious little boy.

I am so sorry.

I’m sorry that I’m not the mommy I could be, nor the mommy I should be. I’m sorry we haven’t played like we used to. I’m sorry I hurt all the time. I’m sorry I yell. I’m sorry I cry. I’m sorry you see it and try to make me feel better. I’m sorry I’m so tired. I’m sorry I’m often out of patience 30 minutes after getting up in the morning. I’m sorry your toys are everywhere and that I haven’t helped you to put them away. I’m sorry we’ve eaten so many pop-tarts and frozen waffles. I’m sorry we haven’t tried harder with potty-learning. That I haven’t given you the extra push you might need; I just haven’t wanted to pressure you… but also, I’m so very tired. I’m sorry I’m not more understanding. I’m sorry I forget you’re only 2.5 going on 3, not 2.5 going on 15. I’m sorry I can’t pick you up all the time. Every time I say no, I promise myself I’ll pick you up soon, so “the last time you’re picked up,” isn’t because of me, but because you no longer need it. I’m sorry we don’t go to the park as much or play outside all the time. I’ve never been able to handle the heat, and I surely can’t now. I’m sorry I’ve had to refuse Bah so much. I’m sorry we don’t “go get a buggy” as often anymore. It hurts mommy so much to walk. I’m sorry we can’t “go fast” in the buggy, because mommy has to walk so slowly. I’m sorry we haven’t visited the zoo lately. The reasons for that are the same as others. I’m sorry things have already stopped being the same as before and Amelia isn’t even here yet.

As for Amelia, I’m sorry for any upset or abandonment you may feel after her arrival. It has been a fear of mine that you wouldn’t understand and you would feel like you are not as loved. But you are. Oh, my goodness, you are. You are my first, you are my favorite little fella, you are the one I waited my whole entire life for. You’re the one I dreamt of. You’re the one I have always wanted and you make me so unbelievably happy. You are everything and you are enough. You were plenty. She is not a replacement. She isn’t a better version.

She’s going to be your best friend, your companion. She’s going to be the person you turn to when you’re frustrated with me. She’s going to be your go-to playmate, your favorite sidekick. She’s going to become your little shadow, and while it may drive you bonkers, you’ll secretly enjoy it, just as I did with my younger siblings. You’ll love when she runs up to you to be held, because she is sad or scared.

Y’all are going to love each other so much. You may not be happy right when she’s born, then again you might be. However, the love will grow and it will blossom and, as with us when you came along, you’ll have a hard time picturing life without her.

Don’t get me wrong, y’all will fight, argue, wrestle, scream, yell, and “dislike” each other more times than I can even fathom. All of that is normal and to be expected. But you’ll make up as soon as it happens and start playing with each other again. It’s all part of having a sibling. They drive you bonkers and make you so angry, but they’re the only ones allowed to do it and “get away with it.”

So, my sweet boy, please know that while I am full of hormones and emotions about any and every little thing, I do love you so. I am so very proud of you. You are such a smart fella and I love all of your dancing and singing. I am sorry for the hard times we’ve had these last several months, and for the hard times to come… but mommy is always trying. Always. And you are enough and have always been enough. You completed our family… we just wanted to try and complete yours.

I love you, I love you. I’ll be back to myself soon enough, and oh… the fun we will have. I love you so.

It’s Okay to Not Enjoy Pregnancy

Every pregnancy is different. I feel like that isn’t a secret for most people, but I don’t want to make that assumption. For some folks, it’s a surprise. I, for one, grew up thinking it would be fantastic. I thought I would smile all day long, every single day. That the joy of growing a human would put a bounce in my step. I would dash here and there, doing all of the things I had always done. Swollen ankles? No big. I’d just plop them on a pillow and fix that real quick. Morning sickness? Well, it’s called “morning” sickness, so it shouldn’t last very long. After all, that’s how it is in the movies, plus my mom didn’t even get sick with all three of us.

Ha.

Haha.

Hahahaha.

Oh, past me. You were adorable.

Pregnancy is amazing. It is something that many of us have difficulty describing. Don’t get me wrong. We all have a generic description to give the general public — I think that’s the same description I grew up hearing. However, when you come down to it… how do you describe this? How do you describe the excitement and the fear? They happen at the same time. How do you describe the instantaneous love or slow-growing love? How do you describe the feeling of your uterus growing, your ligaments stretching apart, and the intense physical pressure of a baby growing inside your body? How do you describe baby kicks? That’s been the hardest for me.

I have an this incredibly intense need to have more than the generic explanation ready. I want to explain everything in as much detail. I want people to understand. I want them to be amazed. I want them to hear from a real, live person how pregnancy feels without having to Google it or find it in a book, written with the intent to sell or get views, rather than to inform and educate. It’s different for everyone, but I want people to know how it is for me.

Honestly, I don’t know why. That’s how I am with a lot of things. I think I just want to help people understand the world around them. I read everything I can and love to learn. Maybe I’m just hoping others do too. I don’t know.

All of that aside, pregnancy has been… well… not the most fun.

I think that is definitely something a lot of people don’t talk about. I have to credit a friend of mine for messaging me on Facebook to let me know that it is okay to have bad days. That it is okay to dislike pregnancy and not enjoy it. After all, she didn’t and when she learned to accept that it was easier for her to manage. I seriously thank God for that conversation, because she really opened my eyes up to what I was experiencing… a wee bit of misery. Or so I thought. To be perfectly honest, I am truly miserable this time around. This second pregnancy has been horrible. Not the worst in the history of all things horrible, because I have many online friends and acquaintances who have it much worse, but it’s my own version of horrible.

In a tiny nut shell, I have vomited more than ever and for longer (I suspect HG*, but was never formally diagnosed, although I was given prescriptions for such and received fluids), I have been in more pain, had a harder time walking, etc. The first four months were absolutely dreadful. I lost fifteen pounds, since my stomach could not tolerate water, much less food, and at 7 months have finally gained seven of it back. Two pounds last month and five this month. Like I said, not the worst, but for me it hasn’t been fun. I have enjoyed the kicks and the movement. Those will never cease to be amazing, no matter how horrible I feel. And I look forward to her getting here. We’re all so excited! I’m just the type of person who would rather give birth 3 times in one day than endure a pregnancy for 9 months.

Women who thrive and love pregnancy, like my mom, y’all are amazing. You truly are and I often wish it could be that way for me. It just… isn’t. And ya know… I’ve grown to be okay with that. I am very open about my discomfort and how pregnancy makes me feel. It helps me to process it and it also removes the glittery shimmer that covers the idea of pregnancy. I think sharing stories like these brings another side of realness to it. There are many ways to become a parent. One of those ways it by sometimes being a miserable pregnant woman.

When it is all said and done, the most important thing is that baby comes to us as healthy as possible. I will gladly (okay, maybe not gladly) endure just about whatever it takes to ensure she is okay. After all, protecting one’s child doesn’t start once they’re born, it starts in the womb too.

 

 

(Please, please know that I mean no disrespect to those who suffer from infertility. I have dear friends who have. I cry and celebrate with them. However, this is my own story and we are all allowed to enjoy or not enjoy things in our lives, while also acknowledging our luck and blessings.)

Ya know, I had originally written this post several weeks ago with the intention of segueing into how hard days become great days when the smallest of tasks are done, but I had to put it on the back-burner (because parenting), and now my fired-up feelings of pride and energy have subsided. I do promise to make a post reflecting those thoughts and feelings soon, though, because I think it is so important to acknowledge that even small chores/tasks are worth celebrating, even if it’s taking out the trash or doing the dishes.

* If you are unfamiliar with HG, please take a moment to click the following link and learn about it. www.helpher.org

First Night

What a day my little fella has had. He is sleeping in his Big Boy Bed, in his Big Boy Room, for the very first time.

It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been co-sleeping since birth and bed sharing since he was just a few months old. It worked wonders for us, although I know it isn’t for everyone. I still don’t mind bed sharing, but I think he’s ready… I hope he’s ready. I hope I’m ready. He and I both need to be, because baby sister is coming quickly and will be here before we know it. I need to reserve all of my night time nursing for her, if possible, and I certainly don’t want them waking the other up.

Still, this is hard. I don’t exactly think my emotions are completely hormone driven. I think I would feel this way regardless. I’ve been so excited for him. I still am. He’s been thrilled ever since we got the bed put together. So excited, in fact, that we had to bring his crib mattress to his new bed in his new room and let him lay on it to pretend to sleep. He’s told just about everyone he’s seen in the last two days that he has a Big Boy Bed. He’s so proud.

I’m so proud of him.

I wasn’t sure how to handle his first night, so I sat on the edge of the bed until he asked me to lay beside him. Quite the feat when you’re 7 months pregnant and in a twin bed with a guard rail, but I managed. I laid with him on his new Batman sheets, looking up at his freshly applied glowing stars, and let him select a book for me to read. He “read” two of them to me, meaning he recited what he knew and told me what was on the page, and then he asked me to read one of his favorites. I finished reading, then he asked for the Goodnight song from Daniel Tiger (the book we’d just finished), so I sang that over and over a few times until he asked for Bah. After a couple of minutes of that he unlatched, rolled over and was out. Three books, one song, a couple minutes of Bah and he was sound asleep in his Big Boy Bed.

Unafraid. No worries. Just sleepy and tired and wanting some rest. He’s comforted and warm and secure.

I don’t know if he’ll sleep through the night or not. I don’t know if I will either. I just know that I’m proud of him. I’m excited for him. And… well, I’m worrying.

What if he wakes during the night and is scared? What if the stars aren’t glowing enough or the night light isn’t bright enough? What if he forgets where he is and stumbles out of bed? What if he leaves his room and becomes confused? His automatic reaction when waking is to go to the living room to find me. What if he doesn’t think to go to my room? What if he gets lost in his state of sleep and panics? What if all of this happens and it makes him afraid to try sleeping in his Big Boy Bed in his Big Boy Room again?

What if he sleeps through the night? What if the stars glow plenty and the night light is just right? What if he remembers exactly where he is and slides out of bed? What if he goes right back to sleep? What if he goes to my room after the living room? What if he goes straight to my room first? What if he knows exactly where I am and what to do? What if he isn’t afraid at all? What if he wakes up during the night or in the morning and is so proud and excited and anxious to do it again tomorrow night?

Anxiety is a hideous beast.

What if tonight is the start of something wonderful for my brave and independent little fella?

IMG_6916

I don’t know what tonight will bring in regards to his sleep. I just know that I am so proud of him. I am so proud of his excitement, his enthusiasm, his bravery, and his willingness to do something new and different and potentially scary.

He’s a few months shy of 3 and he’s so much braver than me.

Mother’s Day

This is something I shared on Facebook first, but I wanted to save it here too. I’ll be doing more of this as I share more and more thoughts and stories (sharing from FB and what not).

A few thoughts in regards to Mother’s Day:

 
1. This Mother’s Day happened to be the day that Oliver decided he wanted to go to the church nursery and stay by himself. We have been attending RCC for almost two years now, and while he adores Ms. Marilyn, he loves his Mama and Daddy more. Every single Sunday one of us has been present in the nursery to keep him calm and keep him feeling safe. It may not be ideal for everyone, but it is for us. Separation anxiety, whether it’s induced by trauma or simply development is not something we take lightly. We have always, ALWAYS known that one day he would find his independence and confidence and realize he was ready. He came very close to doing that last week (but visited me for a bit while I taught children’s church), but this week was it. We hope, for his sake, that this is the start of a new and brave adventure for him. That next week and the weeks to come involve him enjoying Ms. Marilyn and the other children solely on his own as he learns to thrive and enjoy time to himself away from Mama and Daddy. Not only did my little fella take a HUGE step today, but he also wanted his daddy to get him to sleep for nap time. It isn’t something that happens very often, but when it does, I’m always happy for the both of them. So, basically, today was a huge day for Oliver, and really… isn’t that what being a mother/parent is all about? Hoping for these huge days and milestones? Hoping that our love and encouragement helps them to find these days? Best gift ever. ❤
 
2. After 30 years of having the best mom in the world, I honestly don’t even know what to say anymore. There are zero words, gifts, thoughts, etc., that could come close to touching how much I love, care for, and adore that woman. She has done more for me, my brothers, and my little family than anyone in this world. And that? That means more than even she will ever, EVER know. Happy Mother’s Day, mom. You taught me everything I know and I can only hope to come close to being the awesome mother (and father) you’ve been to the boys, Jhavonn, and me. ❤ You’re the very best Mimi and I am so thankful for you.
 
3. I have forgotten that today is Mother’s Day more times than I can count. I figure that’s a huge indication of being a mother. Growing up I prided myself on my memory. After becoming pregnant and having children, my memory got lost with regular showers, clean clothes, and makeup (which I have not worn since our formal ceremony last June).
 
4. I’ve read so many posts this Mother’s Day about those who are estranged from their moms and who find this holiday difficult. I hear you, I see you, and I’m thinking of you. I get those feels on Father’s Day, which is a day I’ve dedicated to my mom for many years now. Some people take issue with that. That’s fine. It’s not their issue. All I know is my mom has been pulling double duty (or quadruple now) as a mother, father, Mimi, and grandpa. And by golly, she’s amazing at it. She deserves all the recognition in the world. So, while this day is very hard for the lot of you, you aren’t forgotten and you aren’t overlooked. Days like this can be so hard. ❤
 
5. Okay, and one last thing. As Jhavonn hurries and sneaks Oliver outside to see some lightning bugs, I sit here on the verge of tears (thanks hormones) as I think of the extreme and most intense love I have for them. We’re about to add another to our little family and really… I cannot wrap my mind around the amount of extra love that will pour from me. I already love that little fella of mine so much. Knowing I’ll love another like that is mind boggling. I have hoped for the day I’d be a Mom since I was a little girl. I have always mothered people, toys, and animals. I have always, always wanted to be a Mom. Even my nickname in college was “mom!” And now that I am… well, it is absolutely the best job I’ve ever had. The very best thing I have ever done. Sometimes I lose my patience, sometimes I cry, sometimes I yell and sometimes I come very close to giving up on my day. Sometimes I wonder how I’ll make it through another day. But y’all… never, NEVER have I ever wished it away. Never have I thought of this anything other than exactly how my life is meant to be. Never have I thought, “I need a life.” This kid is my life. I am totally okay with that. I have wished and hoped for that, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I may wish for a vacation from time to time, but I always hurry back to him, even when I’ve gone to the store. This kiddo (and the one coming) is my everything. Seeing him be brave and happy and excited and excel at the things he sets his mind to are the very best gifts I could ever have. And I would definitely much rather have them every day than just one day.
 
Happy Mother’s Day. ❤

Not Perfect… Just A Mom

I am not perfect. I am not perfect. I am not perfect.

I AM NOT PERFECT.

I am a mom.

And sometimes… well, sometimes folks have you thinking you must be perfect.

That, my friends, is a lie. You do not have to be perfect. You can be angry, excited, tired, sad, happy, grumpy, energetic, lonely, on time, frustrated, on top of things, late, dirty, and so many other things. But perfect? No, that does not have to be part of what you are. And hey, that’s a good thing… especially since it’s impossible.

My son is two and a half and, wooooo boy… he can be a handful sometimes. But he’s supposed to be. Because he’s two and a half. He’s my handful. He’s my husband’s handful. We love our handful. We love all of him, not just his happy self and listening self. We love the screaming little banshee we have to drag through public. We love the crying fella who realized he can’t have candy. We love the pouty face of the kid who just realized he doesn’t feel well. We love all of him, not just the good parts.

Well… maybe these are good parts. Maybe I’m wrong to consider them anything else. These are the parts that give us patience and teach us how best to love him. These are the parts that wear on us and may embarrass us. These are the parts that make us cry and get so frustrated. These are also the parts that teach us how to handle things a better way next time. They teach us how to take a deep breath and smile, instead of huffing and rolling our eyes. And no, it will not always happen that way… but I hope it does more often than not. There are times where I am still frustrated and still annoyed at the circumstance, but there are also times where I’m able to take that deep breath and calmly correct the situation.

As a matter of fact, we had several instances like this all weekend. To preface a bit, our son, as I mentioned, is two and a half. He has grown in his independence more than ever in the last several months. Shame on me if I ever cut off a light when leaving the room without asking if he wants to do it first. You better believe I have to cut it back on, so he can cut it off. I closed the fridge? Oh, lordy… one of us has to open it so he can close it. Daddy put his shoes on when he chose ME for the task? Yup, those shoes are coming off and I’m the one putting them on. Independence is great. I love it. This new phase has also enabled him to leave me at playgroups or at church, so he can go and play with other children. He doesn’t always look to see where I am or to make sure I’m still in the room. He is having an absolute blast. He’s thriving. He’s transforming from baby to toddler to little fella and it’s amazing to watch.

I love taking Oliver out in public. Admittedly, I don’t do it as often these days now that I’m 6 months pregnant, but I like to take him out when I can. He loves riding in the car and he loves going to certain stores. Even more so… he loves buggies. It is to the point now where, while he loves riding in buggies at the store, he may suddenly change his mind once he sees one. Perhaps he wants to push it, or perhaps he wants to walk beside it, but he definitely wants us to have one. (Side note: more stores should have child-sized buggies. That would make life so much easier.)

I took him to Publix yesterday to pick up a few items. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot he knew it was buggy time. He excitedly asked for a buggy. We parked and started inside. Halfway from the car, he decided he wanted to sit in the middle of the walkway to play with his toy. As a child who is incredibly aware of street and car safety, I was surprised and slightly annoyed at this. It’s incredibly dangerous and not a habit I want him to form. When he wouldn’t get up on his own, I grabbed his toy and explained the dangers of playing in the road, even a parking lot, and that he would get his toy once we were safely inside. He was not pleased, but it happens. We got to the door and he broke away from my hand and ran inside. He ran in circles and squealed and screeched. He was so excited! To him, this is buggyville and also a store full of his favorite things! There were balloons and flowers to the right. He loves flowers and balloons! There were cookies and cakes and fruit! And people.

People who stared, people who raised their eyebrows, and luckily a friend who saw us and walked up laughing. After a quick hello while trying to catch O, we said goodbye and I continued trying to wrangle him in. I avoided the stares, even though I knew they were there. I didn’t look up at many people. I could feel the slight embarrassment. I was not embarrassed by his actions. He’s being two and a half. I was feeling embarrassed by the judgement I may or may not have been receiving. During one quick run past me, I grabbed his hand, he fell to the floor in a fit of giggles, and I swooped him up as best as my big belly would let me. We walked to the buggy area and I talked to him about the dangers of running away from Mama. I tried to get him into a buggy and he suddenly was not having it. We both were becoming frustrated and I reminded him that we did not have to go inside. That would could very easily go home and not have a buggy ride at all. It took some work, but once he saw the toy-quarter section (something he has never noticed until yesterday), I told him that was something for after the trip, and if he rode in the buggy the whole time, we would stop by and see if there was anything for him over there. It worked. I’m not above bribing. We try not to do it often, but when a lesson can be learned as a result, then why not?

I was right about a few folks staring. I’m not sure if I was right about their judgement. But their half glances when we ended up on the same aisle, or the fact they didn’t meet my smiles with a smile of their own makes me feel like I was right. And really, it doesn’t matter. I know it doesn’t. What matters is that my child was given the opportunity to be two and a half. His mama did her best to have patience. I don’t spank or pop him, so that was not an option for me. He received reminders for parking lot safety and not running away from the adult he’s with. He also learned that if he does what he’s told, he can look at something he’s interested in when the trip is over.

I’m not perfect. Not in the least. I would never, ever claim to be. Therefore, I expect others to never hold me to that standard. Our family’s method of parenting isn’t for everyone. It is hard. So hard. But it’s our method and it’s what we feel is best. So yes, the general public may hear squeals and shrieks from my excited child, they may think I’ve lost control of him, that I’m not handling things properly or how they would.

But he didn’t stand up in that buggy. He didn’t cry. He didn’t run from me, he didn’t fuss, and he was still able to check out the quarter machines when we left. To me, all of that is far more important than giving in to what I feel strangers may be thinking of me or wanting me to do. My priority is him… not them or their approval.

I’m not perfect.

I’m just a mom.