My daughter is just about to turn nine months old, which means she will be out as long as she was in. As we hit this milestone I finally feel like I’m coming out of the proverbial new mom fog. If you’re in the midst of the fog you might know what I’m talking about. If your past it, I’m almost certain you know what I’m talking about. Whether we’re in it or past it, we all eventually come out of the fog.
As a mom, it is always an adjustment to embrace your new found identity. You had this baby that spent nine months growing inside of you, but now it is learning to live outside of you. You spent months adjusting your growing belly and now you must recalibrate and learn to provide for this little person all the time.
Not only are you learning caregiving skills, but you also have this new identity called motherhood to embrace. You’ve gone from being your own person, and now your some little person’s whole world. If you already have older children, you’re learning how to share yourself with all the little people vying for your attention. No matter how many children you have, it’s always an adjustment to accept the new you.
When you have a baby, they’re always worried about you having postpartum depression. No one talks about this fog you’re living in. With so many things changing in your body, your life, identity, etc. you spend your days with your mind spinning. I am here to share something with you that I’ve heard from almost every mom; adjusting to this new identity as a mother is a challenge for everyone. I’ve also heard from almost every mom that we do make it out of the fog and see our world clearly once more. The way we see our life and world may be different than before, but it is now filled with lots of love and joy.
I have a few things I’d like to share with you today. I want to commend your efforts at being the perfect parent, because it’s not somethings we all aspire to be in life. You believe in the depths of your being that you are doing everything exactly right, and that you have a thing or two you can teach the rest of us.
You are decidedly the best example about breastfeeding or formula feeding, when to start your child on solid food, when to send your child to preschool and kinergarten. Oh! Let’s not forget about extra activities like soccer, dance, music lessons, and swimming. You most assuredly make time for your child to do it all. God forbid a parent choose themselves over their child wants.
Do you sense my sarcasm yet? I hope so, and I hope you’ll join me in doing the following…
No more shaming.
No more blaming.
No more judging.
START supporting others.
Let’s get our views of perfection straight and get them in check. They are ruining amazing mom/dad friend opportunities. Let’s not assume that someone is shaming, blaming, or judging us. Instead, let us assume that the perfect parents are all of us and that we all want to support one another.
How often do you fret over going the extra mile on the project that’s been assigned to you at work? How many times have you worried about finding the perfect vendor to complete an update or correction to something in your home? How often have you said no to a volunteer opportunity because you didn’t think you were knowledgeable enough? Have you ever considered that done is enough?
Over the years I’ve learned to let go on having that work email typed out and articulated “just” right. Once I learned to let go, I’ve been the editor for coworkers stressing about sending out the “perfect” email. More times than not, the final product is not all that different from the orignal version that was being fretted over for not being quite right.
Over the years my husband and I have spent hours looking into every possible lawn care company that could solve all of our problems. We’ve reached out to neighbors to find out what works for them and their yard. We’ve then worried if it’s worth the month, if there are too many chemicals, and what if we made the wrong decision. We spent so much time researching and worrying that it delayed having a beautiful yard we can enjoy.
Over the years I’ve recruited countless volunteers who doubted their ability to serve. They though that they couldn’t be a Girl Scout leader because they were never a Girl Scout, but they turned out to be the most dedicated to learning EVERYTHING about the program, it’s history, and how to lead their girls. These leaders were more than capable and simply needed to say yes and get through their orientation.
I’m not convinced that the driving factor in all of this is perfectionism. I am inclined to believe that it’s our own fear of judgement from others that we aren’t completing the job to perfection, choosing the best vendor for the job, or being the best person for a volunteer position. If we can let go of this fear of criticism or ridicule, we might we see that we did the best we could, we did find the right person for the job, and that we are a good fit for the opportunity.
Perhaps, if we can accept that done is enough, we will learn…
that anything we complete is done exceptionally well
we cannot spend all of our time researching, because we are missing out on other things in our life
that we are capable and called to serve for ne volunteer opportunities
Don’t be afraid to say yes and know that done is enough.
Whether you have kids or not, I’m certain you have heard about Mommy Brain. My dearest Erica (aka happedancing) always wondered if it was real, and then a few of her close friends had children. One of the first things she said to me was, “DUDE, mommy brain is real!” Of course I responded, “oh yes, mommy brain is definitely real! Thanks to it, I feel half-stupid all the time.”
Since having kids I have moments of feeling functionally crazy or off my rocker. Frequently my husband questions the half done projects, things left on the tables/counter, and tasks left undone around the house. I attribute all of this to mommy brain. But none of these compare to the Chicken Incident.
I was just a couple months postpartum from having our second when I invited my friend Steph and her daughter over for dinner. I warned her it wouldn’t be anything super fancy as we were running errands that day. We both agreed that time spent together was of greater importance than a fancy meal together.
That afternoon I took a trip to Costco with the girls, to keep the oldest entertained (she LOVES their samples). I also went to get some needed groceries, and I picked up a rotisserie chicken. I almost always get a rotisserie chicken if it’s anywhere close to dinner, because I know I’ll get at least two meals out of it. Work smarter not harder right?
Once we got home I put the chicken in the oven to keep it warm until dinner time. Next I put on a pot of brown rice to cook, because I figured I might as well make the sides healthy if I was bailing out of cooking the main dish. Right about that time Stephanie arrived. The weather was so gorgeous we decided we had to go enjoy some time at the playground with our girls. After awhile we came back to the house thinking the rice would be almost done so we could get a vegetable made to go along with our easy but healthy dinner.
In the midst of doing this I remember that I needed to warm up the chicken since it had been a little while since we got home and turned the oven on (mind you our oven defaults to 350 degrees). I started preparing some broccoli to sautée on the stove, turned on the stove to get the cast iron skillet hot, and then I noticed something about the rice cooker. The remaining cook time on the rice was 75 minutes and we need to feed the girls in about 20 Minutes as it was close to meltdown time for two hungry three year olds.
Suddenly something smelt a little burny (I don’t think that’s really a word, but I’m going with it). Then I remembered that I had put the chicken in there earlier to keep it warm. The chicken now had it’s plastic container melted all around it. *face palm*
Mommy brain struck again and I had ruined dinner. I waited too long to start the brown rice, and most importantly the chicken was inedible with melted plastic all around it. This was moment that I could have chosen to cry, but all I could do was laugh and give thanks that I had a good friend with me.
We turned off dinner, loaded the kids in the car and went to Chick-fil-A. I may have had hopes of providing a healthy dinner of chicken, brown rice, and broccoli for dinner, but fed was definitely best that night. Not to mention the two almost hungry three year olds were tickled to have dinner together at one of their favorite places. I guess mommy brain isn’t always so bad for everyone?
I had high hopes of getting a new post up today, but I’ve spent the weekend taking care of a sick baby since Friday. Luckily I had the day off as we had plans as a family to go down to Matthews, Virginia to spend the day with friends. Rather than spending the day in, on, or beside the water I spent Friday worrying about a pitiful baby who had a fever.
Luckily our pediatrician wasn’t worried and gave me a few care instructions:
Keep my sweet baby resting, nursing,and eating as much as we could.
Alternate doses of Tylenol and Motrin to get the fever down.
Call if anything changed in how frequently she was eating, wetting her diapers, or if the fever wasn’t down by Monday.
We followed instructions and it all seems to have worked. Thank you for understanding the lack of a more substantial post. See you back later this week.
For the last year I’ve mostly been silent here on HebrewDawn, stopped posting my queued up Real Mom posts, and basically neglected you all. All I can say is I’m sorry, but I’m ready to open up about why.
In May 2016 I found out I was pregnant with our second, my oldest was getting close to turning three and blooming into being her own little person, and I suddenly had doubts about what or how much to share about my family. I’ve always been cautious about sharing their names, but details about their life and personality worry me too. What if someone uses info on my site or social media for the wrong reasons? What if I’m telling things my children will later wish I kept private? This internal wrestiling has gone on forever and then one of my favorite podcasts (Young House Love Has a Podcast) talked about this EXACT topic. Suddenly I didn’t feel alone, felt a little justified in my trepidation, and felt like I could back on the old blogging saddle.
I can honestly say that I have missed you all. I’ve heard from some of you during my writing silence asking what’s going on, and for that I am thankful. I hope you know that I have never taken you my followersfor granted have been saving things to share with you throughout my silence. Please hang in there as I come back to finding my writing rhythm, but I promise to not be so silent anymore! I have no plans to keep my family (particularly my kids) off the blog, but I do plan on changing how much you see of them on here and on social media. What all this will look like is still to be determined. Be back Monday with a new post from yours truly and Wednesday with a wellness post from Erica!
First off, I want to say sorry this isn’t a more uplifting post, but I’m going to be honest about current and recent sentiments. I have been very quiet on HebrewDawn for much of my pregnancy, and I’m not completely certain as to why. Perhaps I just wanted to process my thoughts on this pregnancy and becoming a mom to two on my own before writing them. Moving forward I do plan to open up and share more about how life and motherhood is going with the transition from one girl to two, including all the ups and downs.
On to current feelings….
A little over a year ago I wrote this post for a few of my friends who were near or drawing near to their due dates, and here I find myself in their shoes. I’m days from my due date, and I’ve only hit my “over it” moment last week. Luckily, this was not as early as with my first, AND frankly I’m quite proud that I made it to 38 weeks and 2 days before hitting that point this time.
Now that I’m at the “over it” point of my pregnancy, the well meaning questions from every friend, family member, co-worker, and stranger off the street is driving me CRAZY. So here are my favorite questions, and how I wish I could respond:
How are you feeling? Tired of being pregnant and uncomfortable from the necessary body changes for labor to begin. Other than that I’m great, because this discomfort means I get to meet my baby soon!
How much longer do you have? No way of knowing as due dates are just an estimate! I’m “due” in a few days, but babies arrive anywhere between 39.5 and 41.5 weeks. Also, there are no plans to induce me unless we’re creeping up on 42 weeks. God, please don’t let that happen!
Do you know what you’re going to have? A human baby. At our 20 week ultrasound they said it’s a girl, and I’m praying it’s right. It would be really awkward to dress a baby boy in a little sister outfit.
You’re not going to go into labor right here are you? I could, but it doesn’t really matter. Labor takes quiet a bit of time to progress before a baby comes out. Last I checked babies don’t just fall out.
Are you still working? Yes, because there’s always work for me to get done. Oh, and there’s no reason to waste my maternity leave before the baby arrives.
Is the baby here yet? Not yet, and hopefully my little one will be here VERY soon. Just remember that as excited as you are for this baby to arrive, my husband, daughter, and I are the most excited and we are anxiously waiting for labor to start.
Will you tell me when the baby arrives? Yes! BUT those that need to know first (people present in the delivery room or taking care of my daughter, my boss) will be notified when I go into labor. Everyone else will find out after the baby is born, most likely via social media.
What are you doing while you wait?
I’m going to try and smile nicely to anyone asking one of these well meaning questions.
BUT I cannot promise that I won’t respond in a snarky fashion to the questions, that I won’t ignore phone calls, and that I’ll respond to every text message sent to me.
I do promise that I am going to relax as best I can and enjoy these final moments of being a family of three.
As a parent there are many tough moments mixed into all the beautiful ones. Many of us have experience those difficult ones; like the first time they cry from getting shots, the first time they get seriously injured, and the first time they get sick. But I believe what makes that last moment even more challenging is going to work when your kids are sick.
I keep waiting for the moment that it’s easier to walk out the door leaving my daughter in the care of someone else who loves her while I go to work. To date, that moment never gets easier, and I even dread the moment when it comes. When my little girl is feeling ill, there’s nothing more that I want than for her to feel better. If I can’t make her feel better, then I can snuggle with her until she does.
Unfortunately for me, today is another one of those days that I have to go to work while my little girl is sick. Fortunately my husband has sick AND vacation time through his employer, whereas I only have PTO (paid time off) to be used for both sick and vacation time. Since my husband has more time off, this means he usually stay home with a sick kiddo, and for that I am thankful.
On a day like today, I am most thankful that my daughter is left in the care of her daddy who loves her enormously, is chef extraordinaire, and is one of the most caring people I’ve ever met. I know that without a doubt that my little girl will get nursed back to health with all the cuddles and care she requires.
I know that on a day like today, that not everyone is so fortunate to leave their child in the hands of their spouse, significant other, or another trusted family member. And for this my heart breaks. I can remember the days of my own mother being a single mom, and our neighbors who were single parents as well. They were were stuck with the choice of between going to work to be able to put food on the table and being there with their sick child.
Leaving your child in the care of someone other than yourself and balancing out the responsibilities of work and parenting is never easy. I’m certain leaving for work when your child is sick is not the hardest thing in parenting, but it most certainly can feel like it in the moment. For each person the struggle is different in varying degrees, but it’s a struggle none the less.
I hope the next time we have to wrestle with this situation, we will remember that we are not alone in the guilt and worry. I encourage you to let those that care about you know that you’re having a tough day being apart from your sick child. Most of all, I hope for a day when we don’t have to be stuck choosing between being with our sick child and going to work.
Today I have the great privilege of introducing you to the next mom in our Real Moms Series. She is the mother to THREE beautiful girls, and is truly a beautiful person on the inside and out. I do not have want to take up much of your time with an introduction, so that you can savor all that she has to share. Please meet Linda Gardner, and I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I’m honored to know her.
How many children do you have and how old are they? Tess – my beautiful, kind, already married, 25 year old … and did I say kind? Mary Jean – my beautiful, goofy, not happy about being the middle child, 20 year old … and did I say goofy? And Ava – my beautiful, blonde, last chance for a boy, 19 year old … and did I say blonde?
What’s something you wish you knew before you became a mom that would’ve made your motherhood easier or better? How important it is to form relationships with other moms so that you have a support system of girlfriends. Join a play group of moms of similar aged children. If there isn’t one in your neighborhood – start one! It’s one of the best things that I ended up doing as it provided support for me and playmates for my girls. Girlfriends made me a better mother. Playmates made them better friends.
What is your greatest joy in being a mom? Beyond a doubt … Watching my children develop into the people that they aspire to be.
What has been your greatest struggle as a mom? If they hurt … knowing when to step in so that they know that I have their back and knowing when to step away so that they develop skills on how to fix things for themselves. Learning how to be their biggest advocate while not trying to fix everything for them. You can’t. It’s hard. I want to chew out every friend that has said an unkind word to them and every organization that didn’t accept them, but all of that just makes them stronger people and prepares them for what life brings. Still hard though.
How has your relationship with your significant other changed since having kids? Better, better and better. Obviously working as a team strengthens any relationship. Making the decision before having kids as to parenting style is huge. So basically agreeing to be the same type of parent before you are thrown into the situation. It’s not something you can “wing” because there are 2 of you involved. For us this came natural. We discussed how we would handle things and as it turned out – we were on the same page for most things already. So we were ahead of the game. But if there are things you disagree on then you have to decide ahead which way you are going to parent together.
Having a child changes you. What do you hold onto and let go of as mother? Hold on to who you are on the inside … your heart, your soul, your spirit and let go of the fact that it’s about you. It’s always about someone else now – in the best of ways.
How do you make time for date night? Or how do you keep it saucy when life gets messy? I love date night so it’s easy. You just do it! I have never felt “torn” between wanting to spend time with my husband and wanting to spend time with my children. I have always craved both and done both. And felt good about it. Children have to experience you leaving and coming back. Even if a date means a weekend away. I was always fine with sending my kids away for weekends with the grandparents. It’s a win win for everyone and now they have those wonderful memories. Believe me – they will be fine without you. And if someone else doesn’t do things the exact way that you do … it’s OK.
What’s the one thing you would tell yourself looking back on your journey thus far? Just when you think you’ve been through the best part … lookout … the best is yet to come. The infant stage, the toddler stage, the teenage years, and now young adult. So many laughs, so many tears, so much of everything and yet so much to look forward to!
Anything else you’d like to share? One of my main goals as a parent was always to have my children and family unit be able to exist without me. Obviously I cannot control when I leave this earth, and if it ended up happening earlier rather than later, then I wanted my girls to be well adjusted and confident enough (even as children or teenagers) so that after the initial grieving, they would be able to think of me and enjoy the time we had together and not feel bitter and that they had somehow been cheated. So as important as I am in their life – I always want them to know and remember that their relationship with God is the single most important relationship in their life. That is everlasting.
Respect your children and in return you have every right to demand respect from them. If you are upset with your children – feel free to tell them and explain why. But be open to hearing the same from them. If they are upset with you and decisions that you’ve made – be accepting of their thoughts. It’s a 2 way street. And if they respect you and your rules, then disciplining is so much easier. Feeling guilty over breaking the rules is a much more effective form a discipline than being sent to their room.
Make sure your children are raised to be well rounded. Miss a rehearsal or even school to go on a vacation. Miss a game or a tournament to attend church. Make sure they are exposed to a variety of activities … sports, music, community service, church … it’s all important so they can develop into healthy well rounded people. And remember – our children are not put on this earth to fill the areas that we failed in – they need to find their own thing.
Don’t expect your children to do anything you won’t do also. They learn by example not by preaching. Don’t expect them to do community service if you aren’t willing to do it also. If they want to be a girl scout – you should be willing to be a leader (if they want you to). Don’t expect them to be involved in church if you aren’t also. And as far as being involved … be a room parent. Not every year, but at least one year in elementary school for each child. If you absolutely can’t work it out, then at least volunteer in the lunch room occasionally or to read to their class. You will never regret it!
Worship together as a family. It’s an hour a week and it’s the one time of the week that everyone puts everything else aside and makes God, family, and a sense of community and purpose a priority.
Did you enjoy getting know Linda? I hope you’ve been inspired by Linda and her journey through motherhood. She has shared so much wisdom and guidance for us as mothers and mothers-to-be. There are days that I’m terrified at my daughter becoming a teenager and growing up, but hearing from Linda, I feel like it’s nothing to fear.
If you’d like to read about some other moms in our series, go read about Loren and Heather, here and here.
Do you know a great mom that should be featured in our series? If so, please send me a message.
On separate occasions over the weekend my husband and I picked up our daughter and were shocked by how big she felt in our arms. At one point we asked her, “When did you get so big?”
I don’t think she really knew how to answer that question because VHP’s response was a very contemplative “um, um, um..” while trying to figure out an answer. I’m not so sure that my husband or I knew exactly when either, but by the end of the weekend that we had a better idea.
During church it was time for the children’s moment and we asked VHP, “would you like to go up there by yourself or with mama?” Her response was an emphatic, “MYSELF!” So off she went to the front of the sanctuary. My heart had a little pang of longing to go with her, but I stayed put and watched to see what she would do. She sat for the children’s time and listened to the pastor. She folded her hands, bowed her head, and prayed during the prayer. When all was said and done, she sat for a few minutes after the other children got up, and eventually made her way back to sit with us.
So when did my little girl get so big? Was it Sunday morning? Was it when she no longer wanted to nurse? Will it be when she goes to kindergarten? Was it when she slept through the night as a newborn? Will it be when she goes to high school? For now, it’s when she didn’t need me on Sunday morning.
Even though I may not want to think about my daughter growing up so much, her going off to kindergarten, or eventually being in high school, she’s growing and will continue getting SO big. We might not always recognize these moments of growth when they happen, but these moments pull at our heartstrings nonetheless.
Despite our hopes that our children will remain our babies forever, they grow and progressively need us less. It’s nice to feel needed, but it’s also encouraging to see our babies become their own little person.