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My flag. OUR flag.

Sep 26, 2017 by

My flag. OUR flag.

I had a coworker tell me today that she’d be ashamed if she were me and she bets my “husband is a terrible person since he’s marching off under Trump’s flag”.

Seriously. This happened. Word for word. As I’ve been emotionally preparing to send hubby off on his next deployment, these are the words she decides to share with me today. Truthfully, and this may be the pregnancy hormones talking, she’s lucky I didn’t punch her in her cunty mouth. (That right, I dropped the C-word. There’s a time and a place for all words, and this is the time and the place.)

Amidst the anxiety that comes with prepping for deployment, also comes extreme pride. Pride in my husband and his team, pride in myself and my capabilities….being ashamed? Never. I’ve been so angry at this coworker all day that my hands have been shaking, and I’ve given myself a headache. I can’t even bring myself to remember that everyone is entitled to their own (misguided) opinions, or to forgive her for her ignorance.

So allow me to be clear on two important details.

 

1) My husband doesn’t get to choose his boss, or his hours. He doesn’t get to decide he’s tired of his job and quit. He can’t use up all his sick time or plan extended Disney World vacations. He doesn’t get to pick and choose which holidays he feels like working for double time pay. His career isn’t glamorous or lucrative… but it is essential that he keep doing it, and doing it well.

2) It isn’t “Trump’s” flag. It is OUR flag. Yours and mine. You get to choose what you think of it, and how you treat it, but it’s still your flag. And me? Personally? I fucking love that thing.

 

That flag represents all the things that I hold dear in this world. Here’s the beauty of it, it stands for that freedom that you like to make grandiose claims about, the freedom to say…..choose a new president in a few years if you don’t like our current one.  It doesn’t represent one man, or one set of ideas, or one group of people. The close-minded stupidity of people makes me crazy some times.  That very flag that you are not acknowledging, that very flag that you refuse to stand up for? That’s the flag that gives you the privilege to make your “peaceful” protests in the first place…

And why can you do that? Because of people like my husband.

So, whenever my husband and his teammates next board that plane to destinations unknown: I’m proud of them, I’m proud of this country, and I will always stand for that flag.

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And just like that, we have a 9 month old

Sep 8, 2017 by

And just like that, we have a 9 month old

…because I don’t want to forget, because there’s so much to remember, and because I always want you to know how much you’re loved: here is a letter. To my baby girl as she turns 9 months old.

 

To my dearest, little love,

 

This week you turned nine months old. Nine, whole, crazy months of happy, stinky, squealing baby. I can’t quite believe it. How have you been a part of our lives for so long already? It seems like a minute ago I was waddling around, huge as a house, with you in my tummy. All the minutes spent dreaming of who you’d be and what you’d be like–we wasted, because you are so much better than all the things we’d ever imagined. And smellier. Much, much smellier.

It’s you who taught me how to be a momma, in those sleep deprived night time diaper changes where I was lucky to get the thing on in the right direction. Maybe not the greatest momma, maybe not even a very good one sometimes (don’t tell daddy about the time I let you fall off the ottoman) but a momma none the less. A momma who, most days, desperately needed a glass of wine, and still has no idea what she’s doing. A momma who is mostly positive your first word will be “shit”.

As I was learning to fumble with snaps in the dark without cursing and figure out what made you tick, I know there were days that I was less than stellar. I’m sorry for the stumbles and mistakes, but I think you’re turning out just fine. I think I’ll do a better job with your sibling, because you’ve helped me figure out how to balance on the tightrope that is motherhood. On your birthday you transformed me, I became a mommy, and suddenly life was all about you –despite my headstrong ideas that life would stay the same. It was selfish of me to think that it would be any other way. I was silly.

You’ve grown so much this month that my heart hurts as it tries to remember every single change. You do something new every day! You’ve started to giggle at your own farts, and point at people and laugh. Daddy is training you well. You sneak food off your tray to hand to Crockett, scream angrily when you think you’ve lost a toy, and yell at the top of your lungs: just because you’ve discovered you can.

When I think back to that first day when Daddy and I bundled you into the car after leaving the hospital, your tiny body completely lost in your giant car seat, and then look at you today: I am amazed. Your legs are almost dangling out of the seat now. You’ve been out in this world just as long as you were in my tummy! I can’t believe how fast time is flying.

You are solid, with a herculean grip and strong legs that you love to stand and bounce on. You love to crawl over Crockett and put everything, including momma’s hair, into your mouth. When I walk into your room in the morning and see you standing there, your blonde head poking through the crib rails as you balance on your chubby little legs, grinning at me, my heart almost explodes.

You notice everything. (Especially when we are eating without you, which makes you so mad). Nine months ago I couldn’t imagine a day when your personality would make me laugh out loud, but every day you become more like your daddy (Lord, help us all) laughing and noticing all the things that are funny around you. You clap your hands when you’ve done something well, and wave bye-bye. Each time I’m astounded by how smart you are.

Your number one favorite thing in the whole world is meal time, a girl after momma’s heart. Food literally makes you sing. You love to feed yourself and have mastered the art of picking up tiny pieces of your meal. You will choose broccoli over everything else on your plate but you also like spaghetti-os and peaches, peas and Cheerios. In fact, there isn’t much we’ve set before you that you haven’t gobbled up. You’ve started to share your food with mommy and daddy when you eat, and offer us a full belly laugh when we pretend to take it from you.

You love to blow raspberries at Daddy and play in your swing. You babble and grin at anyone who pays you attention and you quickly capture the hearts of strangers. You still love baths and swimming and all things water, you’ll scream with excitement if you know we are about to get in the pool.

You bring so much joy into our family I don’t even know how to put it into words, so it only makes sense that Mommy felt a little bit guilty when we announced to you that you are soon to be a big sister. You don’t know what that means yet, or how it will change your world (and ours) but my instinct is to squeeze you just a little bit tighter while you’re still my only baby. The transition to mommy of two is scary (probably for both of us) but I can’t wait to see what a great big sister you become. Until baby #2 arrives though, just let momma snuggle you a little longer. I need to soak in every last little bit of you. I blame you though. It’s your own fault that you’ll be leaving only-child-status, because if you weren’t so wonderful we would have never wanted another baby. You’ll always be the only kid who knows what it’s like to have my undivided attention, the first nose I’ve ever picked (besides my own), the first person I’ve ever said “I love you” to more than a dozen times a day…you’re the one who made my cynical, “Grinch-like” heart grow to sizes I never knew were possible. Which is why I know there’s more than enough room in that heart for both you and your new baby brother.

You, my first-born, will always get to know- I loved you first, I’ll love you always, you are the light of my life.

Love, Momma

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New Mommy Monster

Jun 23, 2017 by

The first few months of new motherhood have been harder and yet more rewarding than I could have possibly imagined. When that little girl smiles at me, I feel like I have won the lottery. It doesn’t get better than that. But it does get worse. Much, much worse.

No one can really prepare you, or at least they choose not to—and so you don’t know what you’re getting into until you are properly sinking in the quicksand that is parenthood. I think it’s partly because you get absolutely zero sleep, like none, that maybe people forget what it’s like and thus forget to tell you. Everyone just offers the same bullshit advice: sleep when the baby sleeps. Well, the baby never f-ing sleeps, so there’s that. And if I did sleep in the glimmers in which she has her eyes closed, the rest of the family would be starving and running around naked because the laundry and grocery shopping would just go straight down the shitter.

So, combine the lack of sleep with utterly ridiculous mood swings, crazy  hormones, clothes that don’t fit, bleeding nipples, and the sudden realization that life will never, ever be remotely the same…and new motherhood can start to seem a lot like a horror movie. The thing is, mixed in with all that rot, is this tiny creature who has changed your heart and ability to love into this huge, gigantic mess of a thing that you didn’t know was possible. Man, I love this kid. Who knew you could feel like that? (Especially now that she is sleeping through the entire night.)

The thing is, now that I’m getting some more sleep, I think it’s important for me to reach out. I need to draw back for a moment into those first few weeks and let you know that I totally get it.

Come back with me for a moment:

So there I was. Sitting in the dark nursery, by myself (ok, the baby was with me, but still), with torrential tears streaming down my face. Its week two of this tiny creature’s existence and I am clearly not cut out for motherhood. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself as I sit there in the dark trying desperately to get my child to eat. Allow me to set the stage for you—crying child at 2am; my husband needs to get up and leave the house early in the morning for work and my mother is sleeping soundly as a guest in our home: happily lapping up her role as new gramma. So I tiptoe with the baby to the nursery, where I can nurse and she won’t wake daddy or our other house guests. Only, breastfeeding is the single most frustrating and horrible thing I have ever tried to do. As I unhook my nursing bra from the shoulder in the dark, I can hear the skin tear before I feel the warm blood start to trickle down. You see, my nipples are chapped and raw from trying to nurse, and in my hurry earlier I tucked those suckers back into my bra before they were completely dry. Rookie mistake. The breast milk had hardened onto my nipple and quite literally glued my skin to my bra, so that when I removed my breast from its confines, I also peeled off a layer of skin. Clicking on the light only confirmed what I already knew, and pissed off the baby.

So, I grimace and move her over to the other side. “The bad side”. I don’t know if this is true for everyone but I have one good, rule following tit, and one that sucks. One side, my child will willingly latch onto and go to town. The other? Not only does it produce less milk, but the baby hates it. She simply hates eating from that side. Then, she begins to scream like one possessed by demon spawn.

That’s when it happens. I start counting how many hours of sleep I’ve had in the past several days and comparing it to the hours my husband has had. And then, I hate him. I wonder how many cups of coffee I can really have before it starts to infuse my breast milk. I start to wonder if I will ever feel normal or joyful again. I contemplate the idea that my body is not my own and has belonged to this tiny human for the last nine months and the foreseeable future…. And then I start to cry. I am an ugly crier.

So, the baby is crying, I am crying, and everything sucks. I feel more alone that I have ever imagined feeling, and to top that all off I feel guilty to boot. In my head I know I am supposed to be enjoying every tiny moment of this. That, too soon, she will be a child and no longer a baby. I shouldn’t be preparing to battle with my husband over his lack of help (or inability to breast feed as the case may be….it turns out he was incredibly helpful with said infant, but this is a dark moment here so bear with me) but I was feeling hateful and unjustly burdened… I felt guilty that I wasn’t swimming in euphoria. I was terrified that this new, hateful, tired, lonely person was the new me. I was so often cloistered and alone in the baby’s room to pump or feed that I was cut off from everything else. It was…awful.

So allow me to assure you, if you’re having feelings of doubt, hatred, homicide….. you are not alone. And, this feeling doesn’t last forever. (If it does, go. Go now. And talk to your health care provider because Postpartum Depression is a very real thing). Now, I’m all for wallowing in self-pity, but the angry tornado of emotions that I was during this time I was not a fan of. Every time my husband was contentedly snoring next to me in bed, and I lay awake obsessing over if the baby was breathing, I wondered if I was strong enough to place a pillow gently over my husband’s face. How long could I hold it there if he started to struggle? Someone should have warned him.

As the days pass I begin to feel a little more me and a little less an exhausted pile of crap. I like my husband a lot more too, and watching him become a really awesome daddy has been a lot of fun…You will too. This too shall pass. I wish we, as women, would band together to help each other through this whole child rearing nonsense. So much wasted time Mommy shame-ing one another. What we really need is each other’s support because this stuff is hard.

Today, I was able to get up, shower AND brush my hair before my daughter woke up for the day. (Write that success down in the baby book!) You’ll get there too. But for the moment, take a look at that sweet bundle of adorableness that you created. They grow and change so fast. This chapter will end. So, take a second and revel in the cuteness that is your kid. Do it now. Before they have a diaper blowout or something.

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Define perfect.

Mar 2, 2017 by

Define perfect.

Staring in the mirror at my three-month postpartum body is enough to make tears well up. Even though I’ve lost the majority of the weight, my hips and thighs are massive…and there’s that belly that I’m fairly sure will never go away because the carb-craving monster I become while breast-feeding is untamable.

The carb-craving monster I become while breast-feeding is untamable! #momlife #bodyissues… Click To Tweet

On day three of wearing the same sweatpants I may start to become a little bit irrational about my weight and my body, I may try on every pair of pants that I own…I may start to yearn for that pre-baby tummy, I might wish I could still wear a bikini to the beach. But then I remember that I’m not perfect and will never be. But that little girl staring at me from the Boppy on the bed, the one whose body image I get to shape and whose self-esteem rests in my hands, well, she’s pretty damn close to perfection, and I did that. I did that. So stretch marks be damned because this imperfect, slightly stretched-out body created a freaking miracle.

Postpartum body image

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“Mom” is not my only name… | working after baby

Oct 9, 2016 by

“Mom” is not my only name… | working after baby

I’m supremely happy to be pregnant. I can embrace this whole pregnancy thing. I am growing a freaking human! I’m amazing! What did you accomplish today? Probably not GROWING A HUMAN BEING! My students reminded me this week that I currently have two brains! I’m fascinating.

Also, strangers carry stuff for me, I have an eternal excuse to sit on the couch and eat ice cream, and I don’t feel at all guilty having the grocery store bag boys take my grocery bags to the car. I can’t complain. I haven’t had many extreme symptoms, I’ve felt pretty darn good! I’ve been lucky. Most days I can sit here and really believe that I could successfully and happily produce 7 or 8 kids….and that’s all well and good when I think it. It is not ok when you think it…

because it is not 1950. I am not a “little housewife”, in fact, I’m a terrible housewife. I’m not keen on the idea that someone imagines me being barefoot in the kitchen. (Unless you’re my husband, and in that case….well…your mom reads my blog).  It is not my job to produce offspring and fold laundry. If you know someone whose job it is to fold laundry, and they have affordable prices, please send them my way.

I'm not a little housewife...in fact I'm a terrible housewife. #workingmom Click To Tweet

I thought we, as a society, had become more progressive than this. So I find myself surprised when my co-workers assume that after the baby I’m becoming a stay-at-home mom.

Now, before the internet starts hating me, I know a bunch of awesome SAHMs and I admire them because they are freaking awesome. I am not that awesome. I’m in awe of the selflessness being a SAHM takes, and I’m a little ashamed that I don’t know if I have that in me. I’m actually pretty intimidated by tiny humans, I don’t know how I would entertain both the baby and myself all day, and I am afraid of looming housework. Staying home with my kids has never been a dream of mine. (I recognize the gigantic can of worms I’m opening, I know the arguments on both sides of this issue… and that’s your thing. Not mine. I’m not about to argue how awesome it is to be the one to teach your kid things, not miss milestones, etc. I recognize the awesomeness of that).

Regardless, I have never insinuated that I planned to stay home and yet I have co-workers and even superiors at work who keep mentioning my role as mother, and how I am not coming back to work after the baby’s birth. I feel judged because I’m pregnant, it almost borders on harassment. This is especially true because it keeps getting shared publicly. It makes me angry. Isn’t this my decision? Stop making assumptions about my family.

I am not just a mil-spouse. I am not just a wife. I am not just a pregnant woman. I don’t intend to be just a mother, although that is a title I am really looking forward to having… I worked really hard to get where I am today. I worked toward a 4.0 in my master’s program, and feel proud every time I think about it. I’m certified to teach English in multiple states, and I’m a really excellent teacher–if I do say so myself. I became professionally certified in Colorado, so that I could become better at my job. I attend workshops and professional development to further my craft, and I have 50+ students who depend on me not only to get them through the 7th grade but to lead them toward paths that make them cool adults. I am passionate about teaching, I’m inspired to help other teachers become better teachers, and I think it’s genuinely my calling to help motivate teenagers toward embracing their education and becoming better people.

Being a good mom doesn’t mean I have to give up my career or have a homemade dinner on the table every night. I think valuing myself and my education is a pretty damn good example for my daughter. I think allowing her to see that I can juggle professionalism with a home life is important too. I want her to grow up watching her parents chase dreams and adventures. I want her to remember as she struggles with becoming adult that it is important to value herself, not put herself last, and not make sacrifices that jeopardize her happiness. I want her to see that sometimes its hard to do the things that we want to do, and to observe those moments when all that hard work matters. I want her to see that her parents have ambitions that are not based on her, and that even though she may be the center of our world, the world does not revolve around her.

The idea that someone I work with simply assumes that I want to walk away from so many things that are important to me is silly. They haven’t even asked. And it makes me mad.

The truth is, it is my intention to take a maternity leave to be with my wee one, and then go back to work. I am responsible for those little faces in my classroom, I am responsible for contributing financially to my family, and I am responsible for creating my own happiness. The truth is, that its nobody’s business but my own. The truth is, I have no idea how I’m going to feel going back to work when our little girl is here, my friends with kids have told me it’s brutal. I’m sure it will be. Maybe I will eventually decide that it’s better for us if I stay home for a while, I cannot predict that. I do know that I can’t wait to hold her in my arms and tell her how much we love her and how long we’ve been praying for her. We’ve just started looking into childcare and it’s terrifying. I don’t know how you make the decision to leave your child with a virtual stranger, but we will do what is best for our family. The truth is, that’s my decision to make when the time comes, I don’t have to decide now and you certainly do not have the right to decide for me. I take offense to people telling me what to do.

I think I get that from my grandmother.

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