My latest piece on Her View From Home:
“My husband and I have been together 14 years and married for eight. To some that may not seem like a very long time, but to us, it’s a very long time. Like so many other marriages, we’ve been through a lot as a couple. We’ve struggled. We’ve fallen down. We’ve both thought about throwing in the towel many times. Yet, here we are, still married.
The past few years have probably been the hardest on us overall. We suffered two miscarriages in 2015, got hit hard with an autism diagnosis for our older son, struggled financially from the aftermath of us both going back to college as adults, sold a house we spent all of our hard-earned savings on at a loss to get into our dream home, all while welcoming another baby and both secretly battling crippling depression and anxiety. All of the things that we’ve been dealing with over the past few years came to a head in 2017.”
Read the rest here
I was once at a playdate with a fellow stay-at-home mom friend and she said, “I make myself shower, get dressed and put on makeup every day just to feel like a human again.” She went on to tell me it was the one way she felt like her old self, the before kids woman she used to be before her life was consumed by breastfeeding and trips back and forth to preschool every day.
She’s a better woman than me.
When I first became a stay-at-home mom five years ago, I used to be the same way. I’d plan my shower and beauty routine around my son’s morning nap. When he woke up, we’d hop in the car and head to town to run some errand or go visit this relative or that friend, just to get out of the house and be a part of society.
Until one day, something changed.
I can’t really say there was an event that changed my desire to make myself “presentable” to the world outside the walls of my home. But, gradually I stopped putting on so much makeup for our outings and I started wearing sweatpants more than jeans.
By the time I had my second baby, I became a minimalist in the getting ready department. I basically took a shower and did all of the other basics to maintain my overall hygiene (brush teeth, pluck eyebrows, etc.) but that was about it. No makeup, no fancy hairdo, and certainly no flashy clothing. When I get out of the shower, I put clean pajamas on. Yes, pajamas. Or yoga pants with one of my husband’s oversized t-shirts. In the winter, I toss on one of my 20 black ski hats (I love hats) and I’m done for the day.
Most days I resemble a hobo or vagrant (a decent smelling one) more than the fashionable gal I once was.
I get my son off the bus like this. I go to the grocery store like this. I go to my son’s school like this. I go to doctor’s appointments like this. You know why? I don’t care enough to get “all dolled up” anymore. Who’s got the time? I mean really?
Do you think my sons’ teachers (who are also moms) give a crap if I have mascara on? Or do you think my dentist minds if I have a full face of foundation on while she’s drilling at a cavity in the depths of my mouth? No, she probably would prefer not to have remnants of my makeup caked onto her medical gloves and white coat from leaning over my face. And guess what? The teenage kid at the grocery store check out has probably seen 50 other moms already this morning, and he probably didn’t notice which mom had her hair blown out as the salon and who barely had time to run a comb through hers.
You know who else doesn’t care if I am wearing my Reba McEntire concert tee, purple leggings and red beanie when he gets home? My husband. He doesn’t care. He loves me regardless of my sense of fashion. I believe the words “I can’t even tell the difference between when you have makeup on and don’t,” have even come out of his mouth once or twice. Reason 6,876 why I love the guy.
My kids don’t care what I look like either. All they care about is if I fulfill their order for more juice and agree to read them another book before bed time. To them, I’m mom—regardless of if I’m dressed up with full makeup for a night on the town with my guy or still in my pajamas at 11 a.m. I’m still mom to them.
There will come a day when I’ll return to the workforce and I’ll have to wear pleated skirts, nice blouses and yes, even makeup. I’ll look on point everyday all day and I will probably care more about those things then. But for now, I don’t mind rocking my sweatpants and being a minimalist in all things glamor. But for now, these are the days I get to be present with my babies in my most sacred space—my home. The days I get to dress how I feel: safe, comfortable and practical. And also in Target, where I also feel at home.
Originally published on Her View From Home
When my husband and I started trying to have our first child, I had dreams of being the best mom in the entire world to our imaginary little bundle of joy. I’d take him or her on play dates, the baby would never cry, and we would just be one big happy family. Or so I thought.
Then, after two-and-a-half years of trying for our highly anticipated, much wanted firstborn baby, I gave birth to the most beautiful little boy I’d ever laid eyes on. He was perfect—six pounds, 15 ounces; 20 inches long; a head full of dark hair with his daddy’s eyes and my nose. I had to have a C-section because he’d stayed breech the entire time, so I only got to see him for a brief moment before he was whisked away to the nursery with his daddy in tow.
From the moment I was wheeled into the room where I’d spend the next few days, things went downhill fast. My nurses weren’t right on top of my pain meds so I felt like a train had hit me because of the debilitating pain from my procedure. I wasn’t able to hold my son very much that first day. Between being sick from the meds, being exhausted, in horrible pain, and visitors coming and going I felt robbed of those first moments with him.
That first night my husband and I got a taste of what our life would be like for the foreseeable future. Our precious, sweet little baby boy started crying and he literally didn’t stop for the next four hours. It continued when we got home and all of the elders in our family diagnosed him with colic. That’s when the crying started. Not from him, but from me. I’d cry for no reason. Sure, my life had changed but this was what I had wanted for so long—to be a mom. The weeks following were filled with no sleep, fights with my husband and a little baby who cried all of the time. All of the time. Only parents who have had a baby with colic, real colic, will understand the hell I am talking about.
I felt hopeless, lost and like a failure as a mom. On top of trying to find a way to calm my ever-crying baby, I was sinking deeper and deeper into a depression like I had never known before. It happened gradually and suddenly at the same time. Within two weeks of my son’s birth I lost 25 pounds. All of my baby weight, 9 months of weight gain to grow that tiny human—gone! Sure, it sounds good to some, but it is not healthy to lose that much weight in that amount of time.
It didn’t take long for those closest to me to realize I was dealing with postpartum depression and a bad case of it.
I struggled to bond with my new son. I didn’t have awful thoughts of harming him that sometimes accompanies postpartum depression, but I honestly wanted nothing to do with him. I knew deep down that I loved him, but my mind and heart could not come together. I had thoughts of suicide or running away and never coming back. It was horrible. It was only compounded by the fact that my son continued to suffer from colic. His pediatrician offered little help other than, “Sometimes these things happen and we aren’t sure why.” My husband’s depression matched mine and our marriage was circling the toilet bowl in what should have been our happiest of times. We were constantly at each other’s throats because of the depression, the colic, the exhaustion and the back seat our marriage had taken since our baby arrived.
That’s when an unlikely angel save my life.
Seeing how much we were struggling with life as new parents, my husband’s mother came to the rescue. She came to stay with us. She got up early every morning to relieve me of the night shift, and sent me up to bed. She did the laundry, made us dinner, fed the baby, and sent my husband and me out for dinner and a movie. It was Valentine’s Day, I remember having no appetite while trying to eat my burger at the restaurant. But, I did appreciate the time out of the house with my husband.
My husband was a full-time college student at the time, so when he left for his classes in the morning I was left at home with the baby and his mom kept me company most days. She and I hadn’t had the best relationship in the past. We were friendly with each other, but had very different views on life and what was best for her son. But, maybe because I had provided her with her highly desired first grandchild, things shifted between us. We bonded over him. She talked to me. She just listened as I vented and told her how I felt. She relayed her own struggles with depression after her own son was born. She understood. She made me feel better about it. But, most of all, she showed me it was OK to ask for help. She showed me patience and grace. She took care of all three of us when we needed it most.
Having her there gave me the time I needed to conquer my postpartum depression and adjust to my new life as a mom. She took some of the burden off of our shoulders. She seemed to know when we wanted her to step in and when we needed the time with the just the three of us. She was rooting for us and helping us.
I know some will say that I was weak and what kind of mother was I to have another woman take care of my baby? But, I was taking care of my baby. I was there, every day, doing everything I could to help him and when he wasn’t with me, he was being taken care of by his daddy or his grandma, who both loved him more than anything else. Unless you’ve suffered the emotional and physical rollercoaster that is PPD or you’ve had to live the nightmare that is a colicky baby I ask you to please understand why I accepted the help.
Eventually, with the help of those around me and my doctor, I came out of the fog that was my depression and became the mom I always knew I would be. My son continued to struggle with colic right up until nine months and was eventually diagnosed with autism. The two may have been linked but there’s no real way of knowing. But, to this day, even when she drives me bonkers by giving my boys too much sugar and giving unsolicited advice, I will say until my dying day that my mother-in-law saved my life. I’m not 100 percent sure if I mean that metaphorically or literally. Probably a bit of both.
It just goes to show you never know where help might come from. You never know when you will need it or really how to ask for it. You may have a hard time accepting it at first, but take that extended hand. When you are drowning, grab hold of that life preserver and hang on for dear life until you are back in safe waters. Mine came from someone I hardly expected, but boy, I’m sure glad it did.
Originally published on Her View From Home
Dear Rainbow Baby,
I remember the day I found out you were here. I held my breath as I walked back into the bathroom, after the standard three-minute wait, and gazed at the white stick on the countertop. There were two blue lines and I had never felt so beyond excited and so amazingly scared at one time. You see, rainbow baby, you were very much wanted and needed more than you will ever know. Your momma’s heart had been broken not just once, but two times in the year prior to that test.
Your dad and I both decided not to tell anyone about your existence inside of my belly until after our first doctor’s appointment. So for those first 12 weeks, we bit our tongues and said secret prayers to God that you would stay here indefinitely, that we’d get to meet you on the other side of pregnancy.
With each person we told, I felt like I was giving away chances at your survival. I know that sounds crazy, but to me, letting others know about you was a big risk and putting it out into the world scared the hell out of me. Only a few select people were told about you until we got the results of our genetic testing back.
I’ll never forget the day the doctor called me and told me that everything looked really good and that you were a boy—which totally took me by surprise because I would have bet a large amount of money on you having been a girl.
With each passing month, I continued to pray and hope I would get to meet you. I religiously listened to your heartbeat on the fetal Doppler machine your nana had bought for me nearly two years prior, when I was pregnant with your first angel sibling. Nearly every night, I searched for your heartbeat, and when I found it I swear I would listen to it for over an hour. The beating of your heart was like music to my ears and I didn’t want to stop listening.
As you started to kick and I could feel you move, my worries lightened a little but not much. At every doctor’s appointment I was so scared they would have some kind of bad news to tell me. The anxiety affected my pregnancy and I was not able to enjoy it the way I had with your older brother.
And then, just like that, two days before your scheduled arrival via C-section, my water broke in the doorway of the upstairs backroom and phone calls were made to your daddy at work and both grandmas and we were on our way. You didn’t arrive until six hours later, because I had decided to eat an early dinner that afternoon and we had to wait to deliver you until it was out of my system. However, because of you, I got to feel real labor pains and the chaos of rushing to the hospital to have a baby. It might sound like I’m complaining, but I’m grateful for that now because I never got to experience that with your brother.
At 10:30 P.M. on a cold January night, we heard your seagull-like cry for the first time. Everyone in the operating room giggled at the sound of it. Not two minutes later, your daddy placed you on my bare chest and a huge wave of relief washed over my scared soul and I was in love once again.
I immediately thought how much you looked like your dad and noticed your quiet, calm demeanor.
As I got to know you over the next couple of days in the hospital, I appreciated the fact that you were such an easygoing baby, a stark contrast to your brother as a newborn. I offered up a quick thank you to God for sending me one of these “easy” babies I had heard so much about.
In the months following, as we curled up in the easy chair together in the middle of the night, I fell even more in love. We had our hard days, where we were both crying and tired but it was so much easier this time around as you didn’t have colic like your big brother did.
Today, at nearly a year old, I couldn’t imagine my life without you. I know that in order for you to exist I had to endure the pain of becoming a mom to two angels. Although my heart will always wonder who they would have been and why they could not stay here, I will always be grateful that I have you.
You are the surprise of my life. You are everything my heart wanted and my soul needed. The second I saw you I knew my family was complete. You continue to heal old wounds that have scarred me inside and out.
You are such a happy, beautiful little boy and sometimes when I look at you, I don’t know where you came from. From your blue-green eyes and strawberry hair in a family of brunettes and brown-eyed people, to your contagious smile and constant curiosity, you blow me away.
Always remember how much you are loved. Always remember how much you were needed. Always remember that you and your brother (and my two angels) are the lights of my life.
I love you always my Rainbow Baby,
Originally published on Her View From Home
I loved Christmas as a kid. The second Halloween was over, I’d get my list ready for Santa and craft and hang homemade decorations on my bedroom window. Putting up our tree was one of the highlights of my year. Christmas mornings at our house were magical. We woke up extra early because my dad usually had to work on Christmas, but that was fine because I was always awake all night anyway. Then, we’d go to my grandparents and do it all over again. It was all about family, friends and the joy of the season.
And then I became an adult and started to see the holiday in a different light.
I started to notice the insane commercialism that drives people to spend more and more, some beyond their means. I started to feel the expectations for me to purchase gifts for everyone from my kid’s bus driver to my boss. Let’s not forget how crazy people are around this time of year—every weekend after Halloween makes going to the local department store for a few necessities like a scene from The Walking Dead—complete chaos. Don’t even get me started on people who put up their trees before the snow even starts to fly!
Needless to say, I’ve become jaded about the holiday. While I still love the idea of Christmas and what it is supposed to stand for, the version that modern day culture celebrates is too much for me. I’m a real-life female version of the Grinch—the one at the beginning of the movie.
But now, I’m also a mom. I want my kids to experience the magic of Christmas like I did as a kid, but that’s hard when I’m more Grinch than Santa. So, here are some ways I’m going to try to get into the spirit this holiday season that you might find helpful, too:
Don’t try to keep up. Forget about what your friend is buying her kids or who has already done their layaway weeks ago. Shop and spend at a rate and speed that’s right for you and your family. If you can afford the expensive electronic for your husband, then buy it for him. If you can’t, then think of something else I’m sure he’ll love just as much. Keep in mind that while it is wonderful to give presents to those important people in your life, it is not worth struggling the rest of year to go all out.
Try to remember why we celebrate. You might be religious, you might not be; either way December is a big month for celebrating for many faiths. We all worship and see the world in our own unique ways, which is absolutely wonderful and is part of what makes this big, wide world so amazing, but there is an undeniable feeling in the air this time of year regardless of what you believe. Many people are happier, kinder, and more generous toward their fellow man during the holiday season, so try to be a part of that energy. Try to remember why you celebrate, whether it’s just a family tradition or celebrating the birth of Jesus, hone in on that and use it as your basis for celebrating.
See the holiday through a child’s eyes. Remember those magical Christmas mornings I mentioned above? Those are what I will remember when the holiday grumps start to creep in. I will remember my mom catching me before I came out of my bedroom door so I didn’t see my dad putting the presents under the tree from Santa. I will remember my grandmother’s giant Christmas tree and the pride she took in hanging the stockings with all of her grandchildren’s names on them. I’ll remember looking up at the sky on Christmas Eve and looking for the big guy in the sky. That is what I will focus on—that feeling of wonder, the same wonder that I now see in my own children’s eyes.
Do something good for humankind. I know a lot of people only volunteer around this time of year, but isn’t it better than not at all? Help out at a community meal, take your kids to visit a nursing home, or simply donate a toy to a child in need. Do something that’s good for your soul. Yes, it’d be better to do this all year long, but if you are struggling to get through this time of year this one will make you smile. It feels darn good to do something nice for someone else with no expectation of them reciprocating.
Keep in mind it won’t last forever. Arguably most people would say the season lasts from the first day of November until mid-January. Yes, that’s over two months, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that long. Most of us are so busy attending holiday parties, shopping, volunteering and whatnot that time really can just fly by. If this isn’t your favorite time of year, just keep that in mind. It really will be over before you know it!
Some people adore this time of year. My mom, for one, starts playing Christmas music at the beginning of November, and sometimes I am curious how I came out of her body. Although I may be more of a Halloween gal, I can still see the positives of the holiday season and I want my boys to see me enjoying it as much as my parents did when I was a kid. I want them to have awesome Christmas memories that they will hopefully pass down to their own kids someday. For them, I can take off my Mrs. Grinch mask and put on my Mrs. Claus one instead.
Originally published on Her View From Home
I saw it again the other day: a friend on Facebook found out the sex of her baby at her 20-week sonogram. She was expecting a baby girl. I was excited for her and I know this particular friend didn’t care about whether she had a boy or a girl because she and her husband had been trying to get pregnant for quite some time. As I went to tell her how excited I was for her to be welcoming a daughter later in the summer I saw the other comments:
“Oh my goodness how exciting! Girls are the most precious!”
“A daddy’s girl! Those boys better stay away!”
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen comments like this. And it certainly wasn’t the first time I rolled my eyes on the other side of the computer screen and thought to myself, “Why are daughters often considered more ‘precious’ than sons?”
I know, I know–you could say that I don’t have place for an argument here because I’m a mother of only boys. So, I guess I don’t get to comment on the dynamics of what it is like to have a daughter. But how are my sons any less precious than your daughters?
The word precious literally means, “Of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly.” Synonyms for precious include beloved, dearest, darling, treasured and valued.
The short answer: sons are precious, too.
My sons are treasured and valued. They are sweet and innocent. They are my children and with that comes my unwavering instinct to protect them (yes, even from the girls that will eventually come around). They are my babies. They are the loves of my life, and just because they were born male doesn’t mean they are any less precious than your baby girl.
I know there is an age-old debate on gender roles and expectations that are automatically assigned to our children from birth, such as the unwritten rule that little girls need to be protected more than boys. That is not my point here. My point is that when someone says, “Girls are the most precious,” it makes the person hearing it assume that if girls are the most precious, then boys must be the less desired of the two.
That’s not to say little girls are not treasures in their own right. They are everything pink, purple, bows, ribbons, curls, and pig tails–and seriously just as adorable. I may not have a daughter of my own, but I have a niece and friends with little girls I just love to love up on. And some of them are little tomboys who love to play in the dirt and ride ATVs, too.
I just don’t get why history has always told mothers who are carrying or giving birth to girls that they will have to protect, cherish, and honor those girls more than if they were carrying sons. (And don’t get me started on things that are said to fathers about to have daughters . . . I mean there are songs written about fathers waiting on the front porch for their daughters to return home from dates with their boyfriends. It’s ridiculous!)
My sons are going to date one day, too. They are going to have others break their hearts, be subjected to bullies, and are also at risk to child predators. Our boys need protection just as much as our girls. As their mom, I’m going to do everything in my power to keep them safe and prevent them from being hurt by anyone. And yes, I will be staying up late to wait for each of them to return home from their first dates.
So please, next time you have a friend who announces she is expecting a daughter, please keep in mind that we boy moms are happy for her, too–but that our sons are not any less precious than that sweet baby girl. Our sons are the best gifts we have ever been given and even when they are adults towering over us, they will still be our baby boys.
Try to remember that we longed for these little guys and that for some us they are our little miracles. And though we would have been happy having daughters, we are just as happy and grateful to have sons.
Originally published on Her View From Home