Still a Good Mom…

29e80813-b1a9-489b-af61-442b7ce7dbd5

When I started this blog, I was so sure I’d be a perfect mom. I mean really, the original name of the blog was something like, “Becoming a Young Mom, and How I Did it Right.” Barf! Am I right? It quickly became “How I Did it Peacefully,” because right is a very subjective word, and I mess up all the time. ALL THE TIME. I tried for a long time to still put on a facade. I wanted the world to think I was a super mom. Perfect house, perfect kid, perfect put together life… Well I’m here to tell you, it just isn’t so.

I get angry sometimes. Caleb will be extra clingy for one reason or another, and every hair on my body stands on end. I might even yell. I might even lock myself in the bathroom for five minutes while he cries, because I need five minutes where no one is touching me; poking, prodding, squeezing… But, most of the time I’m not. Most of the time I feel like having this small little boy around me 24/7 is the most awesome blessing that has ever been given to me. Sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes I put the TV on all day long and I just lay on the couch, because the idea of doing a craft or having a conversation exhausts me past my breaking point. TV all day or a mean mom? I’ll go for the TV every time. But, most of the time I’m so happy to take Caleb to the park, play dates, do the newest cool kid craft, or play make believe. Most of the time I don’t ever want him to leave my side.

This is one of the hardest things in the world for me to admit. 99% of the time I honestly don’t feel like I need a break. 99% of the time I really think I’m doing okay. Then that 1% where my nerves are just fried, I wish someone, well someone like his Mimi because I’m neurotic and really don’t trust many people with him, would come get him just for a night. He’s spent maybe five nights away from me since he was born. Maybe ten times he’s gone with her for a day. That 1% of me isn’t a regular thing, and yet I still feel so much guilt about it… but why?

Don’t even get me started on the house. This week we had kind of an inspection. Not on our house from our landlord, but he’s trying to sell the house so the state inspection people had to come and measure stuff. I took three days cleaning the house. Twenty loads of laundry, seven loads of dishes, a full bottle of Windex, and an emptying of the vacuum five times later, our home was presentable. While I was putting away the clothes I ask Corey in exasperation, “How is it that I did all of these things AND went to school when I was younger?” He looked at me and laughed then responded, “You didn’t have Caleb.” I mean, I get the kitchen clean, and every toy is pulled out in the living room. I fold the clothes, turn my back, and the pile has become something to play in. I’m honestly not even mad, in fact I’ve accepted it, but when my house is a disaster (think dishes from a week ago and mysterious sticky spot on the kitchen floor), I’ve been home all day, and I’m still exhausted at the end of the night I do feel really guilty… but why?

This morning I woke up and my house was essentially still clean. The living room has some toys on it. I asked myself if I wanted to pick them up and decided to sit down and watch a movie while Caleb was still sleeping instead. I started to think about all of the things I’m doing wrong. I though about how I lose my patience, or I don’t always make the healthiest foods, or how when his doctor asked us how much milk he drinks, I had no freaking clue. But, I looked around at the fun art on the walls. I looked at the pictures of us together. I looked at his toys and thought about how much I love watching his imagination at work. I walked in and watched him sleeping next to his daddy. He is strong, healthy, and loved. He doesn’t go without. He has at least one close friend, and he has all the family he’ll ever need. He isn’t afraid when I life my hand that he’ll be hit, because we never hit him. He doesn’t have to worry about eating quickly or hoarding food, because we never let him go without. His body is respected. I do everything in my power to raise him peacefully. 99% of the time I succeed, so why do I fixate on that 1%?

… I’m still a good mom.

YOU ARE LOVED

Weaning Remorse for the Both of Us

13650583_1106257442769894_1522090785_n

About four months ago, this sweet boy suddenly decided to wean. I didn’t really know how to feel about it, but I also dried up quickly without pain. I was sad, for rather selfish reasons. I had always expected to nurse much longer, and felt like somehow I had failed him by allowing him to wean. Yes, I know it makes no sense. I don’t know how to deal with it really though, and can’t help those feelings. Moving on…

For two months, he didn’t want to nurse at all. Snuggles would totally suffice when he needed some extra love or comfort, and he was able to go right to sleep at night without nursing and stay asleep. There seemed to be no problem; no real affect on either of us. Until of course there was.

All of a sudden, two months ago, he’d go for sips. He’d just want to love the boobie. Kiss it, squeeze it, or use it as a pillow were some of his lovey ways. Then he started really trying to nurse, and his poor heart would break every time. He was very frustrated that there was no more milk, and would still try. This would hurt my boobs, but he’d be hysterical if I didn’t at least let him try. I instantly regretted not doing more to keep my milk. I could have pumped and given it to him in a cup! I could have pumped and donated it until he wanted it. I didn’t do either, and gosh I’m full of regret now.

Our solution, that he decided on and that I’m not overly pleased by, is to use a bottle once a day to have his cup of milk before nap time. The nipple of the bottle soothes him, and he will snuggle with us drinking him “milkies” until he falls asleep.

It’s really not the same though. I miss our connection through nursing. In the past I could scoop up my crying little love, give him the gift only I could, and he’d be soothed. Now when he’s upset it takes so much more, which is okay, but I feel like I let him down. I know, I know, I’m doing what I can… but…

Thanks for listening to me internet. Sometimes I just have to let my mommy fails/regrets/sadness out.

YOU ARE LOVED!

Happy Sicky Nursling

cuteeee

Reason eighty-bajillion I’m so glad I haven’t completely weaned:
Caleb has a bit of a cold, and he’s okay, but he’s not super hungry right now. For the last few months he’s only been nursing a few minutes a day, if that. During this cold though, he’s just wanted to nurse a lot. It help’s him sleep, makes his throat feel better, gives him antibodies to help him heal… Liquid gold my friends. He’s napping right now after a twenty minute nursing session, and I’m so grateful at this time he really needs it, he has that comfort available to him.

He started getting this cold on Christmas Eve, and was up a good chunk of the night coughing, but giving him a sip of boob juice helped soothe his throat and go back to sleep. When I mentioned it to someone the next day, they couldn’t believe I was still nursing. That’s okay. It happens. A lot of people aren’t educated about nursing. The comment went something like, “He’s eating steak! He shouldn’t be doing that… should he?”

Breast milk NEVER loses it’s value. It’s not as though it’s the only thing that Caleb eats, but it’s the thing he drinks with the most nutrition, and that’s amazing. Your immune system still needs a lot of help even as a toddler and preschooler. Breast milk helps with that. Your teeth and hair is starting to really grow in, and your eyes are getting stronger. Breast milk helps with that. It’s liquid gold at it’s finest, and a completely natural thing.

Around the world, the average weaning age is closer to five. I imagine that we’ll be stopping within the next year. He nurses very rarely now; however, today it’s a real blessing for us both.

I’m Not Perfect

Something very interesting has been happening since going back to school. Corey and I have somehow become a role model to even younger parents! During our family read meetings (we meet with a teacher in a little office off of a pretty public hallway/cafeteria area) we have had at least one person come in each week and say something along the lines of, “I always hear you guys. You’re like the perfect parents!” We have people who tell us how “awesome” we are, and how they hope they can parent like us. IT IS SO WEIRD. I mean, what do we say to that? “Oh no, we screw up all the time.” “You should see my house, it’s trashed!” I WANT to be a good role model. I don’t want to look like a failure, or like we’re doing it all wrong. I don’t think we are. I also know that we are learning, we mess up, and we have a lot more to learn the older Caleb gets.

I think the key though… is knowing we aren’t perfect. I can admit when we make a mistake. I try so hard to not yell at Caleb, and usually don’t, but once or twice a month he’ll do something dangerous and boom, it’s like I explode. “CALEB GET OFF THAT FREAKING THING!” “NO DON’T OPEN THAT!” “STOPPPP!” Then there is this look on his face like I’ve smacked him across the face, and I feel absolutely awful. I NEVER want to hurt my son. I want him to feel loved and safe at all times. I’m the adult, I should be able to control myself, and yet I make this terrible mistake. Immediately I apologize to him. I tell him I should not have screamed, that I was scared, and I will do better for him. I give him a hug if he wants one, or I leave him alone until he’s ready to forgive me.

Some days I do absolutely nothing with him. Hare to believe right? Some days I just let him play alone. He can come snuggle with me, I make sure to feed him and change his diaper, but I don’t play with him. It’s rare, but those days always make me feel like a failure. I just have no inhibition on those days, I don’t want to get up, I don’t want to play pretend. This only happens every other month about, but I know it’s a problem. I also know that it’s probably not going to change because once in a while I need to take a break, and that is okay.

You guys know how much I love breastfeeding. You know I believe in self weaning and full term nursing… OH MY GOSH I hate night nursing. I’ve forced Caleb to night wean. I just can’t do it. It makes me ANGRY. My blood boils and I start resenting him nursing at all. For both of us, I put an end to it. I feel bad. He wasn’t ready, but I put myself before him. I know deep down it was best for both of us, but I still feel a twinge of guilt each night when he asks to nurse.

These are just a few of the things I am doing wrong. I know I need to change some things, I know that I am doing wrong, and that’s what makes me a good parent. My desire to be the best for my kiddo, the ability to see my faults and not justify them, and my constant hunt for knowledge is what makes me come out on the other side giving people the impression of perfection. I’m so grateful for the people I have before me, all my “homies.” If you can take anything from this, just remember to keep moving forward. You don’t have to be like your parents. You don’t have to be like yourself a week ago. Every day you can become better!

Touched Out

lost my mind

Around a year old Caleb weaned himself at night. I have had some fabulous nights of sleep. Even better, he sleeps from about 11pm till at least 8am the next morning usually. Two naps during the day, nursing intermittently… it works really well for both of us. Yesterday though…

Caleb decided he needed a nap at nine last night, didn’t wake up when his daddy got home, and went straight from the nap to bed with me. Five this morning I was regretting that terribly. He was WIDE awake and wanted nothing more than to nurse, snuggle, play, and kick me out of bed so that we could go play in the living room. Once we got into the living room, the little man was a total boob hound. Finally…

I turned Doc McStuffins on the TV and I took a shower. I was feeling frazzled, angry, exhausted. I was mad at him for wanting to meet his basic needs. I was mad at myself for thinking how mad I was at him and I realized that being mad at him was ridiculous and horrible but I couldn’t help it. All I could think was how touched out I was. I didn’t get enough sleep, I didn’t get woken up nicely like usual, and I needed a break.

Hours later I’ve come to the conclusion that all of those feelings are okay. I didn’t act on them in any way that could hurt my child. I didn’t scream at him or say things that would hurt his feelings. I just went and took a shower. I took the time to walk away from the situation, calm down, and move on. When I got out of the shower I took him in my arms, nursed him peacefully, and funny enough he fell asleep for a nap. I’m absolutely convinced that the reason he was acting out was because he could feel my frustration and the energy was hurting him.

When you’re this frustrated, when you feel like you’re going to break, take a step back. Go do something for you. Put your kiddo in a safe and entertaining place first of course, but the best thing you can do for the both of you is to take the time you need.

Uh Oh, Discipline Vs. Punishment

11116096_878406122221695_1961491395_n

Before Caleb was born Corey and I had this crazy idea about spanking. What was so crazy about it? We thought it was a great idea. Why did we think that exactly? Why did we think that hitting a small child who can’t fight back would be a good idea? Why did we have no problem with that when hitting any adult would be considered assault and have a chance of landing us in jail? Well, it’s what our parents, like most parents, did. We didn’t seem to have any negative outcome from being spanked.

Caleb was born and we fell in love and after hearing the argument against spanking of, why hit a child when anyone else would be illegal, we decided spanking was a huge no. From there I wanted a better reason than just a gut feeling for when people asked me why we wont spank. Here’s a great resource: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/Spanking-Linked-to-Mental-Illness.aspx

That left us with the question of how to discipline our little boy. I started to research the different methods out there and something that really stood out to me was the difference between Discipline and Punishment. The easiest way to put it I think is that Discipline is teaching a child how to act the way they are expected to in a positive way rather than making them feel bad about themselves without really learning a lesson. Punishment is often associated with the negative and ends up with a child thinking, “Mommy’s so mean!” Discipline often ends with a child understanding what they have done wrong and learning how to be “better.” I’m no expert, I really can’t put into words as well as I’d like to the difference, but it is an important one.

Right now Caleb is 18 months old and kind of a trouble maker. He has no fear which unfortunately means my daily level of fear has gone up three fold. Climbing, all the time, is all he wants to do and frankly it just isn’t safe. He’s already gotten himself a good shiner from climbing on his desk and slipping as he tried to get down. How do we keep him from climbing on things when he wont listen, like any normal 18 month old, to our requests to do just that?

This is where Discipline comes in. Frankly there aren’t a lot of things you can do. We’ve already said no to spanking (which includes popping or slapping any part of his body.) He’s too young to really understand how serious I am when we say no. So what is there to do? Science has shown a big reaction like yelling or freaking out will only reinforce the action. Children are looking for a reaction. Good or bad, any reaction will make them want to do the action more. That’s not to say when they aren’t being safe that you should just ignore it.

The worst place my son like to climb is our tv stand. It’s narrow, the TV could tip on him, and it’s higher up than he could fall without being hurt. Whenever he climbs up there, which is getting less and less thankfully, I take him down without saying a word or without any expression on my face. I sit him down on the couch with me and that’s that. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but please remember that he is only a year and a half old at this point. How much does he really understand? Right now the best way to keep him safe and out of trouble is to take him away from the situations.

Same goes for when we are out in public. The whole, I’m not getting my way and want to throw a tantrum, thing started a couple of months ago. We ignore it and walk away. That fit ends within seconds. He gets himself together and follows us after he sees that he isn’t getting a reaction and that we’re leaving. We could make a big deal about it, try to drag him onto his feet, yell at him… It wouldn’t have the effect that walking away does.

So, what happens as he gets older? Right now I watch a five and ten year old regularly. I have to take a very different tactic with them. They can understand when I say no. They know right from wrong. Again, hitting isn’t even on the spectrum of a solution. What is a solution, and has worked amazingly on both of these kids, is something that just felt right to me. If they lie, don’t listen, throw a fit, or anything else that requires discipline I tell them in an even voice to sit down. The first week or two that I was watching them they would sit down and have a tantrum in the chair. Yelling, hitting it, telling me how mean I am. I’d let them throw the fit and I’d just wait. Eventually they’d calm down and I’d just talk to them. I’d ask if they knew why I asked them to sit down. The five year old usually just shrugged her shoulders but the ten year old would tell me why. Either way I would tell them why I asked them to sit, explain why I didn’t like that action, and I’d ask if they thought they should be doing it. If they said no, they could go do something else. The ten year old I’d sometimes have do a chore like take out the trash. After that they wouldn’t do the action again. Months later, working with this form of Discipline, the kids have many an amazing transformation with me. I wish I could say more, but just know that the ten year old has become a whole different person.

It seems so simple, it almost seems like it isn’t discipline, but it works. There is a term I’ve heard used that I really love. “Train UP a child.” This means to show them how you’d like them to act and rather than telling them no all the time, telling them what you’d like to see instead. One great example is going to the grocery store. Rather than going in and saying to the children, “Don’t touch anything. Don’t run away from me. Don’t ask for anything.” try a more positive approach. “Please stay with me. Hand on the cart please. Sorry, we aren’t getting that this time. I understand you are disappointed but not this time.” It’s amazing what happens when you parent in a positive way.

These little changes, these simple ways of disciplining children, have made my life better and a lot less stressful and I hope it can help you as well.

“My Mama!”

my mama

One of the funniest parts of my day is bed time. Corey will lay down with me and snuggle while Caleb plays. The thing is… After a few moments, Caleb notices that we are snuggling and he comes over and pushes us apart. He claims me so that his daddy can’t snuggle with me. We always end up laughing hysterically.

This morning I climbed out of bed and Caleb happened to wake up; much earlier than usual for him. He comes into the living room where I’m sitting and he climbs up onto me and wraps himself around me. All I can think is that he’s once again claiming me. I can just picture him saying, “My Mama!” It’s funny how that happens though; how our children get so attached to us, know us, and need us. It feels like a blessing to be so loved by this little person. He absolutely amazes me.

Sorry about rambling all sentimentally today, but I can’t get over this amazing gift I’ve been given and how sweet he really is. I just… I love him. I don’t know what else to say!

The Importance of Friendship

11091298_868121946583446_2178261221631580399_n

After high school I really drifted away from any friends I used to have. More than that, after Caleb came I realized how different my “friends” and I really were and decided that parting ways would be best for both Caleb and I. That’s okay. Eventually though, without even knowing it, I found myself very lonely. All the play groups and classes in the world couldn’t make up for just plain out not having friends. For Caleb, he has his cousins and what not but they are all bigger than him. They aren’t on the same level as him which made it hard for both of them to really play and interact properly. I was feeling pretty bad that my child was as alone as I was. We have each other of course, and that’s enough for me, but I knew that having friends would be better for us both.

Well, one day I went to the crochet group I started and I met Amy. She brought her daughter Alyara with her and in the middle of our meet up had to nurse. It was an insta-connection. Alyara was only a month younger than Caleb and super cute. Amy’s friend Brittney ended up booking a Thirty-One party through me a few weeks later and all of the kiddos were invited. Caleb and Alyara met that night and oh my goodness they were adorable. He would hold her hand and snuggle up to her… and she’d put her hand out and push him right away from her. Oh yeah, we know who wears the pants in that relationship!

That night there was another kiddo present. Sharlett, Brittney’s daughter, who is only a couple of weeks younger than Caleb. They didn’t bond much that night but… the story doesn’t end there! The three of us started hanging out and our little ones did as well. Watching them play makes my heart sing. The way we feel says a lot as well. Caleb and I are both a lot happier and less lethargic having something to look forward to, aka our play dates. Sharlett and Caleb have found a special bond though. Both are charismatic kiddos who love the park and food. They play so well together and I can’t get over just how cute they really are. I mean… just look at this!

11152702_874513469277627_1895971522726746525_n

So go make some friends mommies! You will feel so much better, you will not have as much stress, and your little ones will have someone to spend time with as well. I mean, hopefully at least. Just, don’t be alone. Loneliness can over take you and turn you into someone you don’t want to be. Friendship is important. It’s important to show your kids how to be a good friend. FRIENDSHIP.

Frequently Asked Questions about Breastfeeding in Public

image

Well, after looking at some of the other threads regarding this all over Gaia,
I feel like I really need to answer some of the concerns and questions that people have.
For nine months, almost ten, I have been nursing my son whenever and wherever we are.
So, here’s the facts:

-Aren’t Breasts sexual?
-Yes, they are, when you’re in the bedroom doing it or when you are trying to attract someone.
When you are feeding your child? No. At that point you are giving your child the milk that the bags of fat on your chest produce when you have a child just like any other mammal out there.
There is nothing sexual. You are serving a need. Frankly I’ve seen more boob at the beach than when we nurse. Seeing a tiny bit of side boob isn’t going to end the world.

-Why not just use a cover?
-Have you tried putting even the lightest cover over your head in summer? It gets hot. No matter how thin, the heat ends up getting stuck in there. It’s not comfortable. More over though, they are useless once baby is older and mobile like mine. I try putting a cover over us and my son rips it off which shows a heck of a lot more than if I just nursed him freely.

-Why not pump and use a bottle?
-Not everyone CAN pump. My son eats 4-8 ounces at a time. I can only pump 2 ounces MAX at a time. It takes too much extra time that mothers usually don’t have. More over, nipple confusion is a serious problem. Most babies will refuse the bottle if mom gives it to them because they prefer the boob.

-Why not go to the bathroom?
-Um… really? That is disgusting. You go eat in a bathroom. You go spend 20 minutes sitting in there, uncomfortable, eating. This is just common sense. It’s disgusting.

-Why not go to the car?
-Oh you mean the portable microwave? Yeah no, it’s hot. Sitting in the car is dangerous and extra uncomfortable.

-Why not just use formula?
-Well if you are talking about just in public, it messes with baby’s belly to use it and breast milk and baby will usually refuse it for the same reason as when you pump. Other than that though, look at the ingredients in formula. Not cool. Look that the “ingredients” in breastmilk aka BREASTMILK. Then you look at ease. At night I just sleep with my baby. He eats when he wants so I don’t even have to wake up. If I used formula I’d have to get up at night, warm the water, mix the formula, and stay up feeding it to baby.

-Why nurse in public at all?
-Because if we don’t then I’ll be asked this forever. Breastfeeding is a completely natural and normal occurrence throughout the world. If more people don’t see breastfeeding it can never be deemed normal. Worried about your child seeing? Why? It gives you a chance to very simply say, they are feeding their child in the most nutritious and normal way.

Any other questions?

A Simple Joy that Fills My Life

car

 Time and again my son reminds me of the good things in life.

Last night I was sitting in my “easy chair” whining because I had cramps and I was tired and I just didn’t feel like doing anything. Then this little ball of awesome, also known as Caleb, crawled on over to me like he tends to do, with his truck, and stood against me. He started screaming aka talking to me and driving his car all over my legs. Anyone who could stay grumpy with a cute little man paying so much attention to them is a very silly person. I just burst out laughing and he handed me his truck so I could drive on him as well. I realized then that all I needed was to stop focusing on all the negatives and remember how blessed I am.

When I was growing up, and living with my aunt and uncle, I was kind of a sour puss at times. Every single morning, four in the morning when I’d just woken up to be more specific, my uncle would essentially yell to me, “If you act enthusiastic, you’ll be enthusiastic!” Of course like any teenager I just looked at him like he was the most annoying thing in the world. Since getting out on my own though, I have been enlightened. That really is the way to be. Just smiling releases endorphins that will make you feel better. When you focus on the good, you can see the good and you stop seeing all the bad. The best thing in my life though is my son. He makes me all the kinds of happy that there are.

So I suppose the thing you should all get from this little story is to start focusing on the good rather than the bad. Being bitter, looking at the world in a cynical way, just isn’t worth all the negative feelings that come from it. Being happy FEELS good. So, remember, “If you act enthusiastic, you’ll be enthusiastic.”

This sign hangs above my kitchen table .

unnamed