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For the Sake of My Sanity

I looked at the clock tonight, counting down the minutes until my husband got home from work. I took the kids upstairs so that I could change out of my spit-up stained clothing into my running gear. I quickly peered out my front window scanning the street for his car. Much to my surprise, I noticed my dog running around the front yard. Panic set in (for the 48th time today) and I ran downstairs to find that in the 14 seconds it took me to change my shirt and shorts, my two year old scooted down the stairs and let himself and the dog into the front yard. Again. I know, I know. Get babyproofing locks for the door handles. And I totally intend to do that, as soon as I find the free time I need to go out purchase them. Thankfully, my husband had pulled in and collected the toddler and the dog. As soon as he came in and changed out of his suit, I slipped out the front door for my run.  

My body hurt, it was hot out, my ankles ached – especially after hours and hours of chasing three children. But a three-mile run is the only thing that can sometimes save what little sanity I have left after such a long day. 

After my first child was born in 2012, I went through what many first mothers experience. Looking back, I’m certain I had postpartum depression and anxiety. I quit my job, I stayed home, I consumed myself with his caretaking. In a very cliché mom way, I lost myself. I forgot what I liked to do. I became miserable and resentful. I ended up in therapy, and slowly I found my way again.  

Having experienced that once, I have been bound and determined with my second and third pregnancies to continue to be “me.” I think it’s important to maintain a sense of self – and equally as important for my kids to know that I am much more than Mom. I’m a human, I have interests, I need five seconds alone to pee sometimes. I like to go to work. I like tattoos. I like to drink four (or more) cocktails on Friday nights. So far, I’ve stayed true to this. But although I’ve been able to continue to be ME and MOM, having a third child has brought on another challenge. It’s not “myself” that I’m at risk losing this time around – but more so my sanity.  

sanity

The first child is hard. You can’t do anything, because you haven’t yet adapted to the multitasking of motherhood. But slowly, you learn to get a few things done when the baby is asleep. When the second arrives, you’re a pro. You put the baby down for a nap, you put a show on for the toddler, and you get as much shit done before you hear Mickey announcing the arrival of the final mouseketool, hence signaling the end of both the show and your toddler’s attention span. Then the third child arrives, and if you manage to get even two out of three kids napping/relaxing at the same time, you sit. You just be. You breathe, you pee, you chug some coffee, and you stand at the front door and threaten to kill anyone who even THINKS about ringing your doorbell while your babies are sleeping.  

After Owen was born, I quickly realized my sanity was at stake.  I decided I needed to get out. I needed time away. I needed to be me. I signed up for weekly personal training sessions, which have been a life saver. Fitness is something that’s always been important to me – so working out has helped me work toward getting back to my pre-baby body AND my pre-baby mind.  

During my sessions, my trainer offers the typical trainer encouragement, saying things like, “Come on, Cait. You can do this. There is no such thing as fatigue.”  

One day, during the last five minutes of my kick ass session, he said, “Come on. Finish it. This is the hardest thing you are going to do today.” 

I laughed, because of course, he was right. Physically, it was the hardest thing I was going to do that day. But mentally, it was the easiest. The most enjoyable. The thought of going home and getting three kids fed, bathed, and in bed would most likely be the most challenging thing I did that day. Like a boss, I finished that workout. And then I went home and somehow survived bedtime routine without losing my shit on anyone. 

I guess my point is this: It’s important to maintain my sanity – for myself and ultimately for my kids. Despite the mom guilt I feel when I leave to go out by myself, I know that time away only makes me a better mom. And when things get really mentally tough, when I’m up for the fourth time at 4:00am feeding a teething and overtired baby, I’ll channel my trainer and chant to myself, “You got this, Cait. There’s no such thing as fatigue. This is the hardest thing you’ll do today.”

My Summer “Vacation”

“Oh, all you teachers. Must be nice to have the summer off every year.”

Yup, the three best things about teaching are June, July, August. Amirite? I’m just over here laying in the sun, sipping summer cocktails, enjoying some peace and quiet. Awesome, yes?

Unfortunately, I have no idea if that’s awesome because I’m home with three small children this summer.

Don’t get me wrong. I love having this extra time with my children, but hanging with three kids under five is not a vacation. So far in the two days I’ve been home this week, I’ve cooked and cleaned up six meals, prepared 45 snacks, washed about 40 bottles, wiped three different butts, watched YouTube videos of kids playing with toys, helped my kids MAKE YouTube videos of themselves playing with toys, and cleaned up dog puke twice. In just two tiny days, I’ve had one child fall off a bike and scrape his face, got soaked at soccer practice because I forgot the umbrella, and chased an escaping toddler halfway down the street. Sweet, relaxing vaca, right?

IMG_4639

In the past two days, I’ve taken three kids to three different doctor’s appointments, including the psychologist for my five year old and the feeding therapist for the baby (Yes, feeding therapy is actually a thing). Today I took my two year old to the pediatrician since he was up half the night screaming. Thankfully, it turns out he’s not sick, he’s just an asshole , um, a toddler.

Even as I attempt to type this, there is a baby spitting up butternut squash all over his play mat and a five year old who just announced that he “needs to go poop real bad,” so I better finish this shit up before he needs me to wipe his ass.

When I had only one child, summer was slightly easier. I made sure to plan trips to the zoo, play dates, picnics, and science projects. Last summer, I smartened up and signed up to teach summer school, which was really a decent balance between work and time at home with the kids. This year, since Owen was born, I decided to enjoy some time at home with all three children. They are only little once, right?

The teacher in me still wants to attempt the art projects and fun summer events, but doing anything with three kids is pretty much a total shit show the majority of the time. So far this summer, the only place I’ve taken all three in public is the pediatrician (which is an entirely separate post on its own). I’d consider taking them to the library, but I’m afraid I’d be arrested for the amount of money I owe in overdue fees. So last week, out of desperation, I piled them into the car without any plan in place as far as where we were going. I took them to the gas station where I bought them crappy fidget spinners, drove them through the car wash, and then ran through the McDonald’s drive thru for Happy Meals on our way home. Compared to a day at the children’s museum, I was feeling like this little trip out was pretty pathetic, but to my surprise, they were totally pumped. Who knew that a $7 ride through the car wash could be so exhilarating?

All jokes aside and despite the challenges, I’m obviously so happy for this extra time with my kids. I’m thankful that my boys are spending their summer at home, swimming with friends, eating popsicles, riding bikes, and running through sprinklers. Despite the fun, and for the sake of everyone’s sanity, I’m thinking that next year, it’s time to sign them up for a few weeks of summer camp.

camp

Outnumbered and Out of Control

“Mom, Gannon has a Sharpie!” 

It’s a good thing my five year old likes to tattle because otherwise a lot of really bad shit would have gone down with that Sharpie.

This is life with three children. 

I remember hearing toddler horror stories about kids who colored all over the walls and flushed cell phones down toilets. I know kids are insane and this shit occasionally happens, but I’m not going to lie, a very small part of me judged wondered about the parents. What the hell are you doing when your kid is coloring your on your walls with a Sharpie? How is it possible that your child is left alone, unsupervised, long enough to find a Sharpie and then redecorate your house? 

Then, we had our third baby, 20 months after our second baby. It all became very clear to me. When you have three kids under five, someone is unsupervised at all times, whether you like it or not. 

Unfortunately, feeding and caring for a needy newborn means my very independent and capable two year old has let himself out the front door and played around in the yard by himself once (or twice). It doesn’t make me a bad mom, or neglectful, it just means that it’s not humanly possible for me to have eyes on all three at all times. Obviously, we’ve learned to lock the front door. 

My escape artist.

My escape artist.

When I found out we were expecting our third, I asked a friend of mine who also has three kids about how she manages being outnumbered. 

“Well we’ve lowered our standards, obviously,” she replied. 

This made me laugh at the time, but now I totally get it. Our first child wore expensive toddler shoes when he was learning to walk. We served him vegetables at every meal, even if he refused to eat them. We held tight to his strict napping schedule and made sure we tracked and limited his screen time. These days, my kids play outside without shoes, eat freezy pops by the box, and skip naps whenever necessary if it means getting where we need to be on time. And when I’m really feeling like a rebel, I let them eat dinner in front of the laptop while they watch other kids play video games on YouTube.  

So the next time you see a toddler playing in the front yard alone, instead of contemplating calling CPS, pick that kid up and carry him inside. Surely the mother is busy trying to breastfeed a baby, while on the phone with the pediatrician, and trying to get someone dressed for soccer practice all at the same time. 

And for those of you moms who are expecting your third, or fourth, my advice is simple. Relax a little. Forgive yourself when the kids are chaos. Lower your standards just a little bit, and um, don’t forget to lock your front door. 

Motherhood: My New Normal

Two boys and a tunnel. Just another normal day around here.

Two boys and a tunnel. Just another normal day around here.

 

After a long week of work and parenting, I sneaked upstairs tonight with a glass of wine and slipped into the tub for a quick ten minutes alone before starting the bedtime routines. I made a mental note to thank my husband for this brief break, since any alone time these days is rare and precious.

I carefully poured the baby bubble bath into the steaming water, pushed aside the boats and bath toys… and I didn’t think twice. Then it occurred to me that four years ago, I would have laughed (and probably cried) at the strangeness of this situation. It would have felt awkward and hilarious to be washing up with tear free baby shampoo and setting my wine on the edge of the bath next to my son’s tiny squirt toys. But now, four years and another baby later, I realized that the reason this no longer feels so odd is simply because motherhood has finally become my new normal.

Some will argue that a woman becomes a mother when she conceives, but accepting the title doesn’t mean that the role comes naturally. I remember how weird it felt to carry the infant car seat around with me everywhere I went in those first few months (which wasn’t many places, except for drive thru coffee shops and the occasional trip to Target). I felt so anxious, so aware of the people around me who I was convinced could tell that I had no idea what I was doing.

I even felt like a stranger in my own house. My bedroom at night looked as though a baby bomb had gone off – diapers and wipes strewn around the changing table, the bassinet pushed closely to my side of the bed to make for easy nighttime breast feeding sessions. My night stand was stocked with anything that I could possibly need to survive the night with a newborn, like diaper cream, extra pajamas, receiving blankets, nose suction, a thermometer, infant Tylenol, and a multitude of other items that I surely did not need.

The first time we took my son to the pediatrician, the final page of the paperwork required a parent signature. My mind went blank. Parent signature? Omigod. That’s me. And next to my signature was the “relationship to patient” line where I wrote “Mother” for the first time. Surely I was not old enough (albeit I was 26) or mature enough to be solely responsible for another human being…. Right?!

After eight weeks at home, I reluctantly returned to my full time job. My son’s diaper bag was the size of a small suitcase, packed with enough stuff for him to survive at least three weeks. And then I packed my lunch, my work bag, my pump, and a cooler for breast milk. Did it seriously take this much preparation and planning for one day out of house?! I was fairly certain that I wasn’t capable of this chaos – and I eventually did resign from my position before returning to work 18 months later.

Now, ten months after my second child was born, motherhood in general has become, well, normal. I’m used to the fact that my dining room will always be used as a playroom for the boys. I’ve accepted that I will probably never sleep soundly through an entire night ever again. It doesn’t feel weird to me that my grocery list is dominated by baby products and kid friendly meals rather than steaks, scallops and other delicious food I’m sure I ate prior to having children. It doesn’t bother me that it takes at least two hours to get myself and the kids out of the door each morning before work. I don’t think twice when I crawl into the backseat on road trips and make animal noises for an hour to soothe my fussy baby. These things would have all felt absurd, hilarious, and overwhelming a few years back. And now, four years after I accepted this role in motherhood, I can finally say that I really feel like a mom.

So for all of the new mothers out there who feel as though they aren’t as natural and prepared as they had expected to be: hang tight. After a couple of years, a few tears, and probably another baby – motherhood will finally become your new normal. And you most likely won’t ever want to change a thing (except maybe the sleep deprivation– a few uninterrupted hours would definitely be nice).

Top Ten Things I’ve Learned about Four Year Olds

Two weeks ago, my oldest child – my first baby –  turned four years old. I have to admit, I’m happy to say goodbye to the “threenager” who’s been bossing us around for the past year. I fanaticized about life with a four year old to be something like this: my child will all of a sudden put on his clothes and shoes by himself in the morning, he’ll stop crying over ridiculous shit, and he’ll wipe his own ass. Sadly, none of this has proven to be true. We are two weeks in, and here’s what I’ve learned about kids who are four.

1.) He’s right – ALWAYS. He thinks he knows more than I do. Actually, sometimes he does know more than I do. Apparently all the time he spends watching PBS has paid off.

2.) He’s more than capable of putting on his own clothing, coats and shoes. Unfortunately, not only do children need to be capable of doing these things, they need to be WILLING – and four year olds are NOT willing.

3.) He still thinks he’s the boss. And why wouldn’t he? If someone put my clothes on for me and wiped my ass every day, I’d assume I was in charge as well. And FYI – four year old boys are not capable of wiping themselves. Give it up and try again next year.

4.) Four year olds – and boys in general – are competitive. Occasionally, this works in my favor. For example, I can tell him anything is a race and he moves faster. On the other hand, he constantly needs to be winning and he must always be first, be faster, be the best, etc. – this drives me insane and makes my husband proud. Typical.

5.) Four year olds hate all food. Except fruit snacks, plain pasta, and dessert. Even if your child ate everything as a toddler, they will turn four and ultimately realize they can refuse all food and live solely on Cheez-Its and juice (which must only be served in their official Snackeez cups).

Four year olds are obsessed with Snackeez, and all other As Seen on TV items, FYI.

Four year olds are obsessed with Snackeez, and all other As Seen on TV items, FYI.

6.) Four year olds are OBSESSED with You Tube. They will literally watch anything on the internet. It’s amazing. It’s a bargaining tool. You Tube Bribery. Because really, the thing that four year olds love best about life is watching other kids open and play with toys. Right?! Why would they bother playing with their own shit when they can watch other kids play on You Tube?!?

EvanTube - The Ultimate YouTube channel for watching kids play with toys. #creepy

EvanTube – The Ultimate YouTube channel for watching kids play with toys. #creepy

7.) Three year olds think they are teenagers – hence the term “threenager.” Four year olds straight up think they are adults. My kid literally talks about what he’s going to do when he goes to college – no joke. Slow your roll, dude. Let’s focus on Kindergarten before we get too far ahead of ourselves.

8.) Four year olds should NOT need a cup with a top. But low and behold, they still spill shit every day.

9.) Four year olds have selective hearing. I can scream at my son to get dressed in the morning and he stands there zoning out to Paw Patrol for 45 minutes straight. But you bet if he hears the slight creak of the pantry door as I attempt to have any kind of snack, he’s immediately at my side begging for food.

10.) Four year olds want to play pretend. And they want you to do it, too. I spend the majority of my time at home with him fighting bad guys, wearing capes, throwing batarangs. I’ve gotten an entire education on the Avengers, the Green Lantern, the Ninja Turtles and their escapades versus Shredder and his foot clan. In case you weren’t aware, pretend play as an adult is torture (unless there are a few glasses of wine involved, of course).

So there you have it. The Top Ten Things I’ve Learned about Four Year Olds. I’m sure the course of the next year will bring some surprising challenges, but just like every other stage of parenting, I know we will survive.

And who knows? Maybe I’ll embrace this age – pour some wine in my Snackeez, binge on some creepy YouTube videos, and thank my lucky stars that I survived the Terrible Twos and the Year of the Threenager.

How to Get Your Children to Sleep through the Night

How to Get Your Children to Sleep Through the Night

So now that I have your attention, I have some disappointing news to share. I do not know how to get your children to sleep through the night. And after welcoming my second baby last year, I have finally figured out the truth.

“Sleeping through the night” is a myth. A fucking myth. It’s like the Santa Claus of parenthood. We want to believe that this is a real thing – that it does exist somewhere in a magical sleep filled land – but in our hearts, we know the truth. It’s all a big lie. Children do not sleep through the night.

And the older you get, the more children you have, the more you come to realize the truth. You will literally never sleep through the night again.

I find the phrase, "sleep like  baby" insanely ironic. Babies don't sleep for shit, people. Just saying.

I find the phrase, “sleep like baby” insanely ironic. Babies don’t sleep for shit, people. Just saying.

Our pediatricians tell us this sad lie is for two important reasons: marketing and money. That’s right. You clicked this post, didn’t you?? You read the title, “How to get your children to sleep through the night” and you rejoiced and you clicked it. It sucked you in the moment you saw it. You prayed that I was going to tell you exactly how to solve your sleepless problems. Because we are taught that children actually sleep through the night, we are desperate to read, buy, and believe anything that “the experts” have to say about how to make this unrealistic miracle happen.

Years ago, some douche bag doctor decided that he would lie to parents, tell them that if they bought his book and followed his instructions, their kids would sleep. And then he giggled as parent after parent sought after his advice, purchased his materials, and slaved over the 5 S’s of sleeping (shushing, side sleeping, swaddling, blah blah blah). Well screw you, Harvey. That shit doesn’t work.

I was just like you. I googled “healthy sleep habits.” Once, I even considered speaking with a sleep consultant. What the hell is a sleep consultant, you ask??? Someone who you pay to tell you lies about how to get your child to sleep through the night.

I prayed that my baby would sleep. And when he didn’t, I told myself that eventually, he would not be a baby anymore and he would learn to sleep. But every time your children tease you with one night of decent sleep – and by decent I mean a five hour stretch – some shit storm happens and it disappears as quickly as it ever arrived. Teething, illness, a chilly bedroom, too much light, not enough light, loud noises. Who knows? Anything and everything will keep your baby from sleeping.

Then your baby will get older, transition from a crib to a bed, and realize that they can actually get up and walk around at night. Good fucking luck.

At age three and four, they become scared of their own fucking shadows and are absolutely incapable of even falling asleep in their bedrooms. Monsters under the bed. Night time potty training. The list goes on.

And don’t you dare think that when they are teenagers, you will finally get to catch up on some zzz’s. It’s true – teenagers like to sleep all day long, but they also like to stay out all night – which will most definitely keep you up as you lay in your bed and worry that they are getting drunk and breaking laws and making children of their own.

So just accept it. It’s never going to happen. Your rested life as you know it is over. Give up and learn to drink coffee.

You’re welcome.

The Parenting Pendulum

A pendulum is a weight that is suspended from a pivot so that it can swing freely back and forth. When resting, it sits quietly in its equilibrium position. Now let me just say that this info came straight from Wikipedia, solely because I failed physics in high school and barely passed it in college. It looks like a simple object to me, but is definitely characterized by some complicated physics shit that I will never seem to fully grasp (gravity, force, acceleration, blah blah blah….).

My life as a parent feels very similar to what I can observe and understand about the pendulum. Parenting may seem simple, but is often more complicated than can ever be described. As a mother of two who works full time, I am constantly swung in separate directions, feeling myself pulled by the forces of both career and raising kids.

When I had my first child, I struggled with finding the balance between being my best as a mother and an employee – as I’m sure almost every parent does. I felt the mom guilt sweeping over my skin well before my sparse eight weeks of maternity leave came to an end. I was unhappy in my position at work in general, and in the end, I decided it wasn’t worth losing the time with my son. I quit, stayed home a few days a week, and spent a few days watching another mother’s children to make some extra cash so that I could afford to be away from “work.”

Luckily, I fell into my dream job two years ago. With this brought the financial ability to welcome another child – which ironically has also created my current dilemma. Between caring for two children and upholding my responsibilities as a full time employee, I am constantly swinging in opposite directions. As I care for my kids, a small part of my brain is still carrying the energy from work – the stress, the demands. When I’m at work, a large part of my heart is hurting to be with my children who need me, especially when they are sick, tired, or sad to see me go.

It’s a constant struggle – passing my attention back and forth between the two things that I care so much about. I’ve worked my ass off to earn a Master’s degree in Education and I’ve finally landed the position I’ve dreamed about – the position that has allowed me to afford to have a second child in the first place. But sadly, the ludicrous cost of childcare in this country combined with the lack of reliable options makes things even more challenging. I refuse to give up my career, because it keeps me sane many days, but I still find it hard to give 100% of my time, attention, and energy to my kids and my career at any given time.

As mentioned before, when the pendulum is not moving, it sits in its resting, equilibrium position. One thing that I know for sure is that in motherhood, there is often no resting position. Whether we work full time, work from home, work as a full time mother, or some crazy combination of these things, maybe the answer to this never ending struggle is to find our equilibrium. As my parenting pendulum swings forcefully from side to side between home and work, I am going to make it my goal to slow down every once in a while and find my resting place.

Siri: My Preschooler’s New Personal Assistant

I saw some article on my Facebook newsfeed the other day that mentioned that four year olds ask an average of 437 questions per day. My immediate thought was, “Is that all?” In my house, it certainly feels like about four times that amount. I start my day with the intention of being patient, answering my son’s questions, and appreciating his curiosity. By noon, I start ignoring him, nodding my head and smiling to anything and everything that comes out of his mouth. At least I’m still pretending to be interested at that point, right? At 4PM, I’m almost always responding to everything with, “I don’t know,” or, “because I said so,” while guzzling wine and praying for my husband to roll in from work to save me from the four year old interrogation.

Then, a few weeks ago, I came up with a genius idea. My kid’s two favorite things in the world are as follows: asking pointless questions and playing on my cell phone. I finally realized that I could solve my conversational kid problems by introducing him to the one thing in the world solely designed to answer questions (on a cell phone, nonetheless): Siri.

photo via http://appadvice.com/

photo via http://appadvice.com/

Listening to my son speak to Siri was one of the most hilarious things I have witnessed as a parent. Between the uselessness of his questions and the fact that Siri could hardly understand a thing he was saying due to his rapid fire question asking, I got to witness some comical responses from the trademarked “Intelligent Personal Assistant.” Below are a random sample of the type of things my four year old felt it necessary to ask Miss Siri.

1.) Whats your middle name?

2.) So, what’s the best poker?

3.) What’s the best baseball team again?

4.) What are handcuffs for policemans for?

5.) What are you going to be for Halloween Siri? Because it’s almost Halloween.

6.) What is the hairiest dog? I have a big dog.

7.) What’s the best baby?

8.) What’s the best computer that can do anything?

9.) What the best website on street number ?

10.) What’s that big cord for?

11.) What’s in there?

12.) Why is it dark out in the morning?

13.) How old are you? How old are you? How old are you, Siri?

14.) Where’s Daddy? Where is my Daddy?

15.) When is the red thing going to come to my hand?

16.) What’s the biggest lion at the zoo? Hahahah.

17.) What’s the best circus player?

18.) Let’s get out.

19.) Why? Why? Why, Mom?

20.) Why is Mom writing down all the funny things I told you?

 

After about twenty minutes of this nonsense, my son handed my phone back to me and said, “Mom, she stopped answering. I think I knocked her out.”

No hard feelings, Siri. After 427 questions, I give up, too.

My First Post-Baby Post

Four years ago, my husband and I were getting ready to welcome our first child into our family. We were still enjoying long nights of uninterrupted sleep and hours of free time spent preparing for our tiny addition. We were 26 and 27 – what many would probably consider young for having a child nowadays – but we were excited. With a few months to go, we couldn’t wait to meet our little bundle of joy.

Reality set in when we brought Greyson home from the hospital in February of 2012. We had no idea what we were doing. We were both overwhelmed and in over our heads. We missed free time, happy hours, and daily trips to the gym. And after eight months of feeling like an absolute mess of a mother, The Honest Mommy began.

My blog became a way for me to vent about my insecurities as a new mother. As it turned out, lots of friends and strangers began following my stories and I felt less alone – I realized that what I was going through, the feelings of being inadequate and frazzled, were more the norm than the exception.

Fast forward three years, I am back to working full time during the day, and recently welcomed our second baby, Gannon (which explains my absence from regular blogging). It’s not that I ran out of things to say, I’ve just run out of time to say them.  But last night, as I looked around my room at the explosion of baby gear, teething toys, breast pumps, overflowing garbages filled with dirty diapers, I started feeling the need to share my experiences of life with two. I can’t promise I will find the time to post every week, considering the majority of my free time now goes to shoving a quick meal in my mouth and catching up on as much shut eye as possible – but I’ll do my best to fill you in on the craziness of working full time while caring for two active baby boys.

So far, I’ve realized that caring for two kids is very similar to caring for one. However, life has become a game of carefully calculated choices. Let me explain.

After Grey was born, I definitely felt like my life was a shit show the majority of the time. Nonetheless, I did find the time to shower regularly, get dressed most days, and even got my hair cut and colored every so often. With only one child, you can utilize nap time – two hours of blissful child-free time and space each day. Additionally, it’s easy (and less expensive) to find a sitter to watch one child, so my husband and I even got out once in a while. I remember seeing a mother out in public whose children looked well rested and dressed adorably only to find that the poor woman looked as though she hadn’t slept in a decade even though she was wearing pajamas that look as though she’d been wearing them for days. It wasn’t until I had a second child that I realized the cause for such confusion. Life with two (or more) – it’s all about the choices. You dress the kids or you dress yourself. Clearly, that mom I witnessed – she chose the kids.

My days have become very similar. In the mornings, I have time to put on makeup or to blow dry my hair. I can shave my legs or brush my teeth. I can stop for coffee after dropping the kids at daycare or I can be on time to work. I can make them dinner or I can make myself dinner (because god forbid we all eat the same thing for once). I can grab a snack or I can pour myself a glass of wine. You get the idea. At this very moment, I’m deciding between finishing this blog or picking up the baby who is beginning to fuss in the swing. And in this game of choices, most of the time, the children win.

The work is similar – bath times, bed times, bottles, diapers – but the amount of time per day that I have to get anything done seems to have been cut in half. It may be a while before I leave the house in which myself and both my children are fed, dressed, and well-rested. I probably won’t have an evening when both the laundry and the dishes are done at the same time. And I may never again have the time to paint my nails and pluck my eye brows in the same week. But when it comes down to it, and I look at my boys playing together on the floor, I have to say that so far, it’s totally worth it.

gannonandgrey

When Mommies Need “Me Time”

Back in January, I was the lucky recipient of the dreaded jury duty summons. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. It’s an American right and responsibility and so on. But to be honest, jury duty feels more like a major inconvenience than an important civic duty. From having to drive downtown at the crack of dawn, to having to pay for my own parking, and the sad $40 per day pay rate, it’s all pretty annoying. But honestly, when I received the summons, I looked at my number and I was pretty sure I had a good chance of not even being called in.

And I was wrong.

Sure enough, on the morning of my call to duty, I was told to report to the court house by 7:30am. I called in to work, got the baby off to daycare, and headed downtown. In true pregnant lady style, I showed up toting around a bag full of snacks and several bottles of water, knowing I had a long day of sitting around and doing nothing ahead of me. Since it’s not often that I have a full day of nothing to do, I also packed my iPad and a book I’d been attempting to read for the last year (or two).

After waiting in a very long security line and getting settled into a room full of 400 other people who were equally as thrilled to be there as I was, I decided to make the best of an annoying situation. I poured myself a decaf coffee and grabbed my book. To my surprise, I looked up at the clock some time later only to realize I had been busy reading for over an hour and a half. It occurred to me then that maybe jury duty wasn’t so bad after all. I mean, I couldn’t remember the last time I had an uninterrupted hour and a half to myself to just sit and read a book. And not only that, but I was actually getting paid $40 to sit there and enjoy some alone time (alone, besides the 400 other people in the room, of course).

By the fourth or fifth hour of the day, I had not only read half my book, but I had made some friends, enjoyed some adult time, and caught up on e-mails.

And around this time, I realized that I had been in desperate need of some time away from work and parenting. I mean – seriously – if you are enjoying yourself at jury duty, you probably need to get out more often. I couldn’t recall the last time I had taken some time to hang out with adults and do something that didn’t revolve around motherhood and career related responsibilities.

mom e card vacation

So last week, when a fellow pregnant friend invited me to join her at a prenatal yoga class, I jumped at the chance. Now let me preface this by saying, I am definitely not a yoga junkie by any means. I’ve taken a handful of classes in the past, but that’s about it. I’m not a granola eating, meditating, natural birthing kind of person. I’m typically the person who looks awkward in the back row attempting to bend myself into bizarre poses and trying not to laugh as the instructor tells me to take deep breaths and release my fears and worries through my fingertips (and other yoga nonsense that makes me giggle). They are constantly telling you to let your mind relax, not to think about anything except being in the moment, but c’mon. We’re moms, ladies. I’m making a mental grocery list and planning my son’s birthday party as I’m standing in warrior pose. But I digress.

So although I’m not yoga master, I really wanted to go. I mean, jury duty was thrilling and all, but I needed some legit “me time.” I trudged through the frozen tundra after work last Monday night and made it to class with a few minutes to spare. I was the first mom to arrive, and I have to admit, I was nervous. The studio was very small – there wasn’t going to be any hiding in the background. The class was going to be taught by a doula and I was slightly nervous she’d spend the entire time trying to convince me why I should attempt natural child birth and how to breathe through contractions sans epidural. And even more, there were a variety of props set up at each person’s spot – blankets, yoga blocks, a few fancy pillows. I had a feeling I was going to be in over my head with this class.

As the women arrived and we settled into the start of class, the doula welcomed everyone and spoke to each pregnant mom individually, asking us how we were feeling. I know what you are thinking – last week I was totally bitching about people asking the obligatory, “How are you feeling?” when they don’t really want or care to hear my answer. But this was different. She actually wanted to know how we were feeling. She asked what parts of our body were hurting, how we were sleeping. She offered some stretches and sleeping positions that might help our aching backs. It was amazing. It was so nice to spend 10-15 minutes talking about the physical challenges of pregnancy with other women and have them actually listen and understand. Maybe this wasn’t going to be as yoga-meditation-crazy as I had expected.

The rest of the class was just as amazing as the first few minutes. It was extremely relaxing, not at all strenuous, and really enjoyable. The instructor was helpful and showed us how to use all the props to modify poses without making me feel like I had no idea what the hell I was supposed to be doing. I still had trouble shutting off my mind and not making mental lists, but I have admit, there were a few minutes that I was able to actually “be in the moment.” LOL. That yoga-dialogue will always make me laugh.

During the last fifteen minutes of class, the instructor shut off the lights and played some quiet music. She gave each mom a short massage, complete with lavender oil and a killer neck rub. While I would normally feel SO awkward accepting a massage from a random doula I had just met an hour earlier, I didn’t hesitate at all. What pregnant mom is going to turn down massage?! Certainly not this tired Mama. And it was wonderful.

After all, I guess what I came to realize is this. Every parent – pregnant or not – needs some time away. I learned this fact back when my son was born, but between play dates and bedtimes, time can easily get away. Rule of thumb: If jury duty feels like a fucking vacation, then you need a vacation.

So if you find yourself relaxing during your latest dental cleaning, or you actually enjoyed waiting for two hours in your doctor’s office solely because you haven’t had two hours to put your feet up in months, then you are in desperate need of some “me time.” Schedule yourself a massage, go grocery shopping without your children, or plan a night out with hubby. You deserve it, ladies.