Thursday, September 29, 2011

I still don't get it.

We have all heard it before. Your mom does something a little bit kooky and you give her that teenage, judgemental look and she says "When you're a mom, you'll understand".

Fair enough. A lot of things my mom did that I thought were annoying when I was a child are now very clearly necessary. The crying (oh, hormones). The constant trips to the bathroom (children of the world, you have no one to blame but yourselves). The hoarding of art projects, the pushing of vegetables and fruits, the hovering at the playground. The incessant picture taking. I get it.

But there are still a few things I don't get. Maybe my mom is just weird, but the following things still leave me puzzled:

1. The snot rag. What is up with that? Your nose is running and she passes you this wadded up tissue and doesn't understand why you look repulsed. Every mom has one of these in her purse. Just throw it away. Even if it is an unused tissue that somehow got crumpled into a ball, it will still feel like a snot-covered vomit-inducing rag when you hand it to me. So, no thanks. God gave me sleeves for a reason. Desperate times.

2. The hugging. Now if you know me, you know I don't really love to hug. I blame this on my mother. She is suuuuch a hugger. We had to hug out everything at my house. More than two people involved in the emotional exchange? Well, then a group hug it is! No, no, no. Too much hugging and the hugs lose their special. Lets save hugs for scarped knees and reunions after time apart. Perfectly acceptable alternatives are lap-sitting (for babies, of course), hand holding and verbal affirmation of love.

3. The voice mails. Oh, the voice mails. My mom leaves them no matter how many times I tell her I don't listen to them. Sometimes she will just say, "hey, call me". Um, the missed call notification on my phone that displayed your name and number were enough to alert me to the fact that I need to call you. You either have this kind of mom or the kind that leaves lengthy, entertaining voice mails. My aunt Donna leaves my cousin Alason the best voice mails. Seriously, her whole day's events condensed into 30 seconds. Amazing.

I have the greatest mom in the world and I would probably be an absolute train-wreck without her. But the things above, I will probably never get. I am willing to bet Austen will have the same kind of list. What drives you crazy about your mom?

Things I don't get about Austen? Why she loves spilling things.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, dear friend.

Let me tell you about my friend, Liz
First of all, its her birthday...everyone say...HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIZ!

Who wouldnt want a mom like this!?

In honor of her birthday, I want to share with you guys just how much this fellow ginger means to me.

First of all, shes raising two pretty kick ass kids with the help of her cutie pie husband, Ryan. She actively serves the community through efforts at the free store and by welcoming four neighborhood boys into her home a daily basis for homework help, warm food, and most importantly--a chance to be heard and loved. As if that's not enough, she serves on the board where our kids go to preschool.

When shes not busy taking on the neighborhood's needs, shes crafting away. Making beautiful things from next to nothing--seriously, do you have a left over box? She will teach you to make this. If you are like me and can't make a stick figure look cute, you can buy her creations and feel good about cute stuff in your house that has little to no environmental impact.

hanging out with my little gal.

Liz is not perfect--but she will be the first one to admit it. She can be a "strong" personality, she can let a few days go by without touching the laundry, she absolutely cannot resist a plate of brownies. Who can?

However, the truth is, I can honestly say that I have met very few people like her. Who are continually striving for improvement. Perhaps the best part about my dear friend is that she sees her own flaws and wants to change them. It is an amazing and rewarding thing to see her dig deeper spiritually to find answers--something she has taught me to do for myself.

I love her for her talents, her sincerity, and her willingness to always show up. She may not have the answer...but she shows up. And she helps. Best of all, she does not keep tabs. She gives selflessly.

 I love her because despite all of the awesomeness she has going on, she never makes me feel like I need to match up. When I do something cool, she really does think its noteworthy. She supports me. Something I always figured was normal---but I am quickly realizing it just isn't. A true blue friend without ulterior motives is hard to find. I feel blessed to have found her.

Oh, just looking cute with a baby on her back.

I am so proud of who she has become over the past few years. 
I look forward to many years of watching her grow as a person, becoming an even better wife, mother and friend.
To you, Liz. On your Birthday. I love you! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Do what's best--then do what works.

One of my best friends from college, Emily, and I had this motto: "When in doubt, do nothing."

This motto served me very well in college. When aren't sure if you should drunk dial that guy you met yesterday, don't. When you aren't sure if you should do that shot of Jim Beam when you have class at 8 am, don't. When you aren't sure if you should spend your last $5 on a forty of beer and some cheeseburgers, don't.

 The motto didn't always work the way it was intended.

I do well when I can regularly repeat a mantra to myself. The old college saying still serves me well (when you aren't sure if you should take your child out when she hasn't napped, dont.) but I got to thinking about what my "parenting" motto would be. I decided that the overall theme of my parenting journey thus far has been "Do what's best--then do what works"

I really wanted to nurse Austen for a long period of time. If I had to list my greatest disappointment to date, my nursing experience would probably rank very close to the top. I wanted to do what was best for her. I wanted us to find the perfect latch, get supply issues under control, and have that intimate bond. In reality, at 5 weeks into our journey, a lactation consultant and Austen's pediatrician urged me to introduce formula. In the end, we did what worked to keep her happy and healthy. I still have some regrets in that area, but I know that I tried with my whole heart--and then I adapted to my child's needs.

I want Austen to sit at the table every night and eat a well balanced meal. I want her to participate in our dinner time experience and be happy to be there. I want that because it is what's best. In reality, sometimes the only thing that works is standing at the kitchen counter making airplane noises while trying to shove yogurt in her mouth. But she eats, and that's what counts.

I wanted to be there for every broken heart, every scraped knee and every prize-winning smile when she is filled with accomplishment. After all, a mother's love is best. However, it's not what worked for our family. As a stay-at-home mom, I was restless and bored. I missed working. Do I necessarily think that Austen is better off at preschool? Well, more and more--I am starting think so. She is thriving there! In the end, doing what worked ended up being what was best...

I am learning not to be so hard on myself. My intentions could not be better when it comes to my family, but sometimes our execution of our goals just falls short. And that's okay. Austen is almost 14 months old and still takes a nightly bottle, still sucks a pacifier--things I swore we would be done with on her first birthday. Sure, its probably best to be done with them sooner rather than later--but I am letting go of worrying about what someone will think of me or of it's the perfect way of parenting--and learning to just do what works.

Parenting is a commitment, a life-long promise to care for someone else. It is impossible to think that we will always do what is best when in reality, it just might not work. Adaptability is our greatest ally.

When in doubt, don't give a cranky toddler spaghetti.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Let's establish some ground rules.

Okay, so Facebook has once again "improved" their layout (whatever happened to "if its not broke, don't fix it"?). It now appears that we will all be able to see not only what everyone is doing every single second, but also which activities are deemed most popular. Yaaay!?

claps for Facebook!

That being said, lets go ahead and review some Facebook etiquette:

1. I know it has been said a lot lately (my friend Liz Eagle had a pretty funny post on it). But for the love of cheese and rice, enough with the "Nine out of ten people won't repost that they love Jesus..." and "Everyone is dying of such and such disease, so repost this for awareness...". Particularly awful are the cryptic statuses about what color your bra is. Seriously, enough is enough. Jesus does not care about my Facebook status, of this I know. Facebook is a place to tell us what you are doing or how you are feeling. Not for you to tell everyone else what to do and feel.

2. Now, about your feelings. I enjoy reading about  ramblings onpolitical and ESPN-related thoughts. It gives me insight and helps me see things differently. It's okay to tell us you had a bad day at work or that you're having the best day ever because you just scored $300 worth of groceries for $.15. These are acceptable, shareable emotions. The fact that you hate your baby daddy, your boss is a total retard, or your best friend slept with yo man are not. Your drama is making my head hurt.

3. I am not even going to ask that you speak English. Just speak some semblance of a language. "If you do dis n den u say dat, itz annoying to read, ya herd?"

4. No one believes that your name is James Igotthesickestflow McDonald. So, just stop. Seriously. (I really do automatically defriend these people when I see this happening. Someone has to make a stand.)

5. We get it. You love your man. Your girlfriend is the best thing that has ever happened to you. Blah blah. Stop posting it on each other's walls every 15 minutes, look up from your phones and tell each other in person. Recognize that your Facebook interactions appear on everyone's mini-feed and sort of makes us all want to throw up in our mouths.

5. Lastly, we all do annoying things. I post an obscene amount of pictures of my kid. I could give you some excuse about how I started uploading them to Facebook to clear memory from my phone...but really, you don't care about my excuses. And I don't care about yours. So, if I do something annoying--go ahead and defriend me/take me off your feed. Now, I will be exercising the same right. Don't ask me to be your friend again repeatedly. And if we are friends in real life and you ask "did you see my post about blah blah" and I give you a blank stare...well, sorry. I just couldn't take one more picture of you posing in your bathroom mirror. No hard feelings. Sometimes (*gasp*) people make better real-life friends than Internet friends!

Lets meet at the park and discuss. :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Yummy Mummy?

Ohmygosh. Can we talk about the park? I feel like as the air becomes crisp and Austen's sweet little jackets beg to be worn its the only place I want to be.


That is, until I get there. Maybe it's just my neighborhood, but every time I walk to our local park, I feel a sense of dread when I see certain moms. I "know" them in the sense that we have all been swinging our kids side by side for a few months. Some of them know one another much better--they have kids who don the same private school uniforms, they lease the same make and model of SUV, they serve the same organic grass-fed beef. Whatever it is, they just aren't overly friendly or nice--despite my repeated attempts to make small talk.

A few days ago, I took Austen to the park. Those moms were there. I did my best to join in their conversation while also trying to make sure that Austen did not kill herself in a feeble attempt to keep up with the big kids (seriously, she thinks shes ten years old). They all gave half hearted smiles and sort of reply to my attempts at conversation. So, feeling defeated, I went and put my gal on the swings.

One of the moms broke from the crowd and came over to me. "You're a very yummy mummy", she said. Wha?! What does that mean? Then she says, "I like your daughter's pants". Oh Good! A chance to bond. "Thank you," I said, "We basically only put her in hand-me-downs..." I would have continued, explaining that I am lucky to have so many friends with such stylish children that I would be crazy to buy new things for her at this point. I couldn't finish my thought because she very condescendingly says, "Ooooh. Let me get your information. We are always looking to help someone in need and I have girls clothes her size."

Whaaaat?! Whoa, lady. I will be the first to graciously accept a hand-me-down. We aren't "in need" but we aren't rock stars either. Regardless, the point is--she jumped to conclusions about me and my child rather than simply trying to be our friend.
Austen rocking the hand-me-down pants

I thought about her comments on the walk home. Yummy Mummy? In Need? Did she feel threatened by me? Or did she feel sorry for me? I find myself increasingly frustrated over the overwhelming competition between mothers. I think that's what this, and many of my interactions with other moms, boils down to. "Oh! You have a problem? Let me be the one to fix it/show you how to do it better/brag about how I never had that problem." Its silly and ridiculous.

Why are "mom blogs" so popular? Because becoming a mother is a universal experience. We all feel the same love for our children and desire to raise them in the best way possible. Now, how that manifests itself in real life is clearly different across generations, neighborhoods and classes. Why can't we just be okay with that? Why can't we embrace the community of mothers around us and utilize the wealth of information it could serve to be without feeling defensive?

The ironic part is, the kids all play freely and without hesitation. All I am saying is, open the circle at the park. Stop judging.

I will now exit my soap box. Thank you, thank you very much.

Friday, September 16, 2011

oh...hey there!

You guys! How did I go MONTHS without posting??

Oh, I got a job and Austen turned one and started preschool and we have been trying to find a new house and oh I still have that evil dog that pees in my house?!

Gotcha. Guess I have been kind of busy. Well, have no fear...I am back! I didn't really stop writing, I just stopped editing things and putting things up here for your enjoyment. I have had a few a-ha moments in the past few days and one of them is that I really miss blogging. So, lets get this party started--again!

About the job--its awesome. It's so perfectly suited for our lives and our situation and I am infinitely grateful to be somewhere that makes me feel appreciated and also gives me flexibility.

Clearly, the dog can't be trusted to pee outside so we didn't feel very comfortable trusting her to care for our infant (toddler?! It's getting harder and harder to tell). Go figure. We opted instead to enroll her at St. Martin's Episcopal Preschool which is from 9-1. It is freakin' awesome ya'll. She LOVES her teacher, doesn't even cry when I drop her off and comes home chit-chatting like she can't wait to tell me all about her day.

After school, the world's most amazing nanny, Chelsea, picks her up and takes her home. Sometimes the go to the park and sometimes she just crashes for nap time. Regardless, Chelsea sends me updates and adorable pictures. I regularly stop and thank God for this awesome arrangement and for bringing her into our lives (thanks, Bethany!).

I struggled with this whole "back to work" thing. We didn't necessarily desperately need me to work for incomes sake (although we certainly weren't cruising along like the Jeffersons or anything). It was more that I was at a crossroads where I felt like I was missing a crucial piece of my former self--the part of me that really takes pride in a job well done and enjoys getting dressed to go somewhere every day. I recognize that for lots of women, they find that same type of satisfaction working within the home. For me, I felt like I needed that outside connection. To each their own? Doesn't mean I didn'tshed a lot of tears over leaving her with someone else. I still do.

I also feel like the stimulation Austen is getting from being around other kids was very needed. She is super busy, social, and very intelligent. I think she is thriving in an environment where she can try new things and learn from others--something I tried to cultivate when I was at home but was never able to be very consistent with.

So, there ya have it. We are all alive, well, and happy. And I am baaaaaack.
Oh, and an added bonus? Preschool keeps Austen worn out--and sleeping like a champ! :)