5 Ways Life Has Changed Since Having My Second Kid

Recently, I went from being a mother of one to a mother of two. The first few weeks of having two children had its challenges. Everyone was short on sleep and I was constantly occupied by the newest member of the family—my infant son. But Dad stepped it up, giving big sister a ton of love and attention and I was actually quite satisfied to be clutched by this new baby round the clock. I was happy to spend my days (and nights) getting to know the tiny person who’d already occupied my body for the better part of a year.

While there was undoubtedly more on my to-do list, overall, things didn’t seem that much harder. I even told a friend who inquired about how my life was different that it really wasn’t. While, yes, there was new baby who cried in the evenings, we were still doing the same things we’d always been doing.

Now five months into having two kids, I take it all back. I’m no longer high off birth hormones and newborn fumes. The acid trip has worn off and real life with two kids—one preschooler and one infant—has set in. Though I’m overjoyed to be reveling in what I feel is my “complete family,” I can now say with complete confidence that having two kids is no freaking joke. I’ll be the first one to fully acknowledge that having one child can be tremendously challenging, as well, but here’s how my life has changed since I gained one more.

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Continue reading on Mommy Nearest… 

8 Chores you should pawn off on your kids

I don’t like doing most chores. In fact, during my entire freshman year of college, my sheets never made it into a washing machine once. I know, it’s disgusting and totally sickens me now, thinking of how they were a very light shade of beige by the end of the year. At some point in early spring, I almost couldn’t take it anymore and was getting ready to tear them off my bed, but my roommate made a suggestion: “Well, you’ve made it this far, you might as well just keep it going.” I was easily persuaded.

Come summer, I think I just threw them out and vowed I’d do better the following year.

But my while my “better” might have meant a few more trips to the laundromat, my hatred for doing chores, especially dishes and laundry, hasn’t subsided that much since 2003, the year I graduated from high school. I do these things now, and frequently, but I only do it so that my kids aren’t running around in filth. It appears I value their health a bit more than I did my own.

I’ve always suspected that a little too much was done for my sister and me when we were young (and not so young). My room was often cleaned for me. My laundry was washed and folded. On occasion, I rinsed a dish and put it in the dishwasher, but usually, I just put it in the sink and left it there, as if that was half the battle. I really don’t remember doing any chores as a kid… ever. And while I think there is some value in letting kids be kids, I also think doing chores as a child makes adjusting to doing them as an adult much easier.

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Continue reading at HuffPost Parents… 

9 Rules for Grandparents to follow at the holidays so they get invited back next year

When a parent becomes a grandparent, a series of chemical reactions take place in the human brain. This release of hormones (endorphins, oxytocin, etc) is known to contribute to what is generally referred to as “The Grandparent Effect” – grandparents doing whatever the hell they want with no regard to consequences all in the name of love.

Obviously, I’m joking, and I fully appreciate the amazing love Grandparents give. But the hormone cocktail would help explain some of the bizarre grandparent behavior I’ve both experienced first-hand and heard about from friends that seems to peak at the holidays. In fact, it’s one of the biggest complaints I hear new parents talking about: “Why do my child’s grandparents think they can do whatever they want with my kid just because it’s Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanza? They should know better!” Or, to quote a friend, “Why are there candy cane flakes in my 8-month-old’s neck rolls?? She doesn’t even have teeth!”

If the grandparents are coming to town this holiday season, you may want to post this list up on your soon-to-be goodie-stuffed fridge. Or better yet, print it out and send it to them anonymously BEFORE all hell breaks loose at the “most wonderful time of the year.” Here’s what I’m telling my kids’ grandparents this winter:

Read more: http://www.mommyish.com/2014/11/25/rules-for-grandparents-at-holidays/#ixzz3K6f8mc2N

I did all I could today

I am weary, laying in my bed, half-asleep but not quite done for the day. The baby will be awake in an hour, or a half hour, or maybe three minutes. Who knows. Big sister was just up again because she had to potty, then a nightmare. Dad is out of town and there is no one to smack in the belly to tell to rock the baby at least once. That typical feeling that it’s just me is compounded right now.

Today was hard and I didn’t do my best.

I have those seamless days when everything goes off without a hitch. Like Monday when big sister woke, cheery and bright-eyed. At my request she ran into her room and picked out an appropriate outfit and put it on. She ate her breakfast without me having to ask her to stop messing with the baby and sit back in her chair. Well, maybe I asked her a couple of times.

I had gotten a few hours of sleep, at least, between feedings. The baby was bubbly and chirpy. The big girl put on her shoes, even tied them and smiled proudly. I dropped her off at pre-school. A quick kiss and she entered happily and started playing. I drove away feeling good, no guilt about leaving her, no worries about her missing me and her brother when we were gone. We got home and I nursed the baby back to sleep. I tidied, threw some dishes in the dishwasher and a load of diapers in the wash. I sat down and wrote something I felt good about. The baby woke, nursed and didn’t scream his brains out on the way to get big sis from school. The rest of the day went pretty much the same. Good moods and easy going children. If all days were like this, I’d have three more kids and a dog named Tilly. Or Vinny. Or Buck.

But all days can’t be like this. If they were no one would do yoga or cry and drink wine and write blogs about parenting. There would be nothing to cleanse your soul of, no struggles to relate over, no worries to send out into the world and hope you get something back. Some days you just do what you can do and hope it’s enough. Some days are like today.

I’m already awake when it starts because I never really went to sleep. The baby was up all night, and I mean, all night, tossing and turning with a stuffy nose. Every half hour or so, I offered my breast but he turned away, not hungry, just tired and fighting sleep. I rocked him and tried to sooth him but the night was still so damn long. The sun rose and that dreaded feeling came over me- “how will I make it through this day?”

Right away, big sister is being argumentative at best, just downright nasty at worst. She’s rough with the baby, too rough to let slide. She’s into everything, pulling out every toy, book, game. She doesn’t want to get dressed and in a few minutes, I’m down on the floor, shoving books back on the shelf while the baby pulls at my shirt and drools on my shoulder, pleading with her to pick out a sweater. Another fifteen minutes of this and I’m angry, but so is she. And she’s angrier when I sit down to nurse the baby and she has to eat breakfast alone. She’s whining and I’m sad and guilt-ridden and it’s not even 8.

Finally, after a lot more redirecting and pleading, we are off to school. The baby wails and turns purple while big sister covers her ears in the car. She doesn’t want to go. She wants to stay home. I remind her that mommy has to get some work done today and school will be much more fun for her. I drive away defeated with the baby screaming the whole way home. When we get there I nurse him and he falls asleep instantly, but wakes when I put him down. I nurse him again, hold him for fifteen minutes to make sure he’s hit his sleep-cycle. I put him down. He wakes. Finally, I rock him and hold him and just let him sleep on me for an hour while I write emails on my phone, asking editors I’m mildly intimidated by for extensions.

The rest of the day is the same. There are a few good moments mixed in. But overall, I am overwhelmed and exhausted and I know I’m not doing my best. My daughter is talking, talking endlessly and sometimes I go “yeah” or “okay” or pretend to be enthused but really,  I didn’t even hear her. I don’t even know what she asked me and when I realize this, it kills me.

After dinner, baths, snuggles, books, nursing and rocking and more nursing, I pour myself a glass of wine and drink half before dumping the rest back into the bottle when I hear the baby. I will go lay with him and try to get him back to sleep. It’s nearly nine. I’ve had about fifteen minutes to myself and I spent them sitting in a chair with my eyes closed, waiting for the next call of duty I knew was moments away.

Even when they are draining me, I can see how lucky I am for this family of mine. But I can’t always give them everything. They deserve the best of me. They truly do, but since they have all of me, how can I give them my best always? Some days I can’t give it because I don’t have it- it’s not in me. Some days I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel and going through the motions. Some days “good enough” comes in it’s place.

I didn’t do my best today. I did all I could and I tell myself, “it’s enough” because it has to be. Tomorrow is another day and it will be better, brighter, more rested. Tomorrow, there will be more laughter and no matter what I’ll give it all I’ve got.

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Why we should stop telling mothers to “enjoy every moment”

You’re in deep with a colicky baby. It’s been a month since you’ve slept more than twenty minutes straight. You finally understand the expression “bone tired” because you feel as if your body is literally crumbling beneath you. In an effort to be heard, to feel understood, to relate to a fellow mother you express your hardships- that your baby never sleeps, that motherhood is bigger than you thought, that you aren’t sure if you’re cut out for it. It’s so hard to even say the words but you desperately want to know that what you’re feeling is okay.

But before you even get past “well, I’m pretty tired…” there’s someone there to put you in your place. “Oh, HUNNY. Enjoy it,” she’ll say. “Enjoy every moment.” And just like that, you’ve failed again. Not only did you actually feel those things you felt, but you tried to talk about them, which makes you an even worse mother than you already feared you might be. “Enjoy it…” it echoes in your ears. Enjoy what? You wonder. All of it? Every goddamn hungry cry? Every inconsolable outburst? Every inconveniently timed poop explosion running down your blouse? The one you finally pulled from your closet in an effort to look like a woman, not a milk truck?

“Well, fuck,” you think. “If I’m supposed to be enjoying this then I’m really fucking screwed.” Because even if you enjoy a lot of it, or most of it, apparently that isn’t good enough. You have to “enjoy every moment,” to really be doing it right. Didn’t you know?

It doesn’t stop in infancy. When your toddlers are running a muck, getting into every last cupboard in your house, smashing dishes, coloring on the walls, mark my words- there will be someone offering up the age-old expression “enjoy it.” It may even be followed by the near constant reminder “it doesn’t last forever.” And in that moment you pray to whatever God you believe in that they are right.

Motherhood is the only arena of our lives that we are made to feel we should be enjoying every waking moment of. But underneath it’s obnoxiousness, the sentiment is usually well-intentioned. It almost always comes from a mother who has walked your same path but is too far from it to remember it accurately. She looks back and idealizes every part of motherhood, no matter what her experiences were. Because the truth is, when our kids are grown, we will all wish we enjoyed it a tiny bit more. We will wish for their baby soft skin, their stutters and that intoxicatingly wonderful new baby smell. No matter how hard or exhausting motherhood is, it does not escape me that this will undoubtedly happen.

While “enjoy it” may be good advice in theory, it’s not actually good advice for a struggling mother. The reason being that it doesn’t help her in any way, shape or form. In fact, it hurts her each and every time she hears it. It makes her wonder what is wrong with her when there is nothing wrong with her. No one enjoys all of motherhood and if they do, please point me in their direction so I can find out where I can get some of what they’re drinking. Or smoking. Or snorting. Whatever. If there is some magic potion that can make me want gobble up every minute of being a mom without ever wanting to scream into a pillow then I’m game.

But there isn’t. There is no magic potion, only time. It comes with looking back and sighing, “I sure wish I’d enjoyed it all a little bit more.” No doubt, it will one day come. But that doesn’t mean it’s not okay to struggle, to be human, to be a mother finding her way. You don’t have to enjoy it all to be a good mother. So let’s stop bullshitting each other. I won’t enjoy every moment. And neither did you.

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Sponsored Post: Introducing Jesse the Jack’s ABC App!

Let me begin this post by saying we aren’t big on apps over here. Correction, we aren’t big on apps for kids (duh, I love my apps)Believe me, it’s not because I don’t want a half hour to myself here or there or because I’m vehemently anti-technology. Hello, I’m a blogger! No. It’s more that I’m terrified of having to fight off my almost 5-year-old daughter from trying to steal my phone approximately fifty-five times a day. Whenever I’ve downloaded an app for her thinking, ‘this will be for an emergency car-ride situation only,’ she’s suddenly asking all the time if she can use it and so… DELETE. Bye-bye mommy time.

Luckily, my kid is starting to show some self-restraint as she nears her fifth birthday. Hooray! She’s also starting to show an interest in learning to read. Hooray again! So lately we have been starting to introduce the alphabet and pick out books at the library which pay attention to letters and spelling, even some of those “I can read” books. I’m not about forcing kids to learn to read before they are ready because I don’t believe young kids should have to struggle to learn something that is out of their reach. So it’s nice to see the signs that reading is on the horizon, all on it’s own, without any pressure from mom or dad, or the alternative-style school my daughter currently attends.

So when I was asked to review Jesse the Jack’s ABC Zoo App, I was like, ‘alright. We’ll give it a whirl.’ It is after all, the perfect timing for us in terms of where my daughter is developmentally. So we downloaded the app and I told my daughter we would first check it out together and then she could play it by herself for about 20 minutes. It might not sound like a lot but she was pretty amped given she doesn’t usually get free reign over the phone.

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We discovered the app has two modes- story mode and game mode. We wanted to try game mode first and see if it was something fun or educational or both. You’re introduced to Jesse, a cute Jack Russell terrier, who takes you to his ABC Zoo. The first screen comes up and says “A is for…” and it’s the child’s job to pick the matching animal. This would be slightly too challenging for my daughter, but there’s help. The child is given three choices to pick from and when you put your finger over each animal it says its name. There is an outline of the correct response that the child must drag the animal into.

Jessie the Jack's ABC Zoo App.

Jessie the Jack’s ABC Zoo App.

My first thought was “this could totally build confidence in learning the correct letters that start each word.” My daughter completed the alphabet in about 10-15 minutes and then wanted to do it again. Oh, I almost forgot the best part! When you get a couple of correct answers, Jesse the Jack does tricks for you. He flips, he blows bubbles, he plays dead, he even rides a skateboard. It’s cute and silly and my daughter thought he was hilarious. I wasn’t sure exactly what his role in the game would be, but I have to say, he’s a pretty good motivator that pup! Next we tried “story mode”, which was an animated story about the same characters in the game.

When it comes to Jesse the Jack and his ABC Zoo, I was definitely pleasantly surprised. While my daughter won’t always have free reign, this is one app that won’t get deleted. I’ll be down with letting her use it to reinforce the reading skills she’s learning elsewhere from time to time. To her, it feels like a special treat and I’m excited to know she is building confidence with letter recognition! Each child is so different, so I would encourage other parents to look for signs that their child is ready to begin reading. If they are, I think this app makes a great addition to other techniques learned at home and at school.

The app ($1.99). and iBook ($.99) are available TODAY, October 22nd, on iOS (iPhone, iPad, coming to Android early 2015) for download. Go here to get them!

Find Jesse the Jack on Facebook here.

16 Things My Husband is Usually Doing Wrong (According to Me)

Like most loving, decent, kind and patient spouses, I don’t like to rag on my husband. I really don’t! But sometimes his actions make me question if he is in fact, watching an episode of The Office in his head instead of being marginally invested in whatever else he is doing. Like having a conversation with his wife or caring for our two tiny humans.

I love my husband dearly. I’d marry him again if I could. Sometimes I wonder how we even found each other in this crazy mixed up world. In fact, I’d make a list of all the things he is doing right, but it would be too long and too gushy and I’d lose my street cred. Even so, I’ve had to practice patience over the last five years of my life as a spouse and a mother because though raising little ones is tough, I think co-parenting (and co-existing under the same roof at all times) might be even tougher.

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Since my partner (for life, ahhh!!… still gets me) also happens to be such a good sport (remind me to add that to the things he’s doing right list)…

Here are 16 things my husband is usually doing wrong (according to me):

1. Not answering questions. I talk. He doesn’t answer. I talk louder. He still doesn’t answer. I talk REALLY loud and he says “geez, why are you screaming?”

2. Not having breasts and therefore not being able to do the midnight feeding, the 2:30 am feeding OR the 5 am feeding.

3. Moving too slowly. This typically pertains to when bedtime is looming, when we have anywhere to be at a specific time or when one of our kids is about 30 seconds away from a huge meltdown. Enter: slow mo.

4. Looking at his phone so much you’d think there was a real life naked woman in there who talks to him and doesn’t leave a trail of breast milk wherever she goes.

5. Coming home with sixty percent of what was on the grocery list and a whole bunch of stuff that wasn’t.

6. Two words. Selective. Hearing.

7. Two more words. Fake. Pooping.

8. Also, getting home from work and immediately excusing himself to poop when I haven’t pooped alone in five years and have been drowning in children all day.

9. Forgetting to flush. If it’s yellow, whatevs, I’m mellow. If it’s brown… PLEASE flush it down. I’ve already seen more poop today than you can possibly imagine.

10. Basically just pooping too much altogether for a thirty year old man.

11. Being able to sleep through crying, whining, and me being body-checked by children.

12. Falling asleep the second his head hits the pillow.

13. Working out twice and losing 8 pounds while I busting my ass at the gym five days a week and still have to wear pants with an elastic waist.

14. Buying so many kinds of good beer that I have no choice but to drink them. Hence #13.

15. Always needing me to find things.

16. Putting clothes on the little people. The tag goes in the back. Always in the back. How he did not think the backwards bathing suit on our four year old looked completely insane is beyond me. We are not raising a mini Christina Aguilera here!

If you don’t support women’s rights in birth, don’t call yourself a feminist

I recently read a post (and a slew of supporting comments) on a popular parenting blog about birth plans and why you shouldn’t have one. Yes, you read that right — why you shouldn’t. I get where the author is coming from. Can birth be unpredictable? Sure. Can having a vision of your ideal birth set you up for disappointment if it doesn’t go exactly as you had planned? Absolutely. The birth of a child is, after all, a day that most of us have thought of and wondered what it would be like since we were children. I know I did.

But you know what is likely even more disappointing than maybe not getting your ideal birth? Getting railroaded into unnecessary interventions during your birth because you didn’t know you could say “no.” Feeling completely and utterly unsupported during your labor and delivery because you unknowingly picked a hospital with an unprecedented 50 percent C-section rate. Suffering birth trauma or postpartum depression or anxiety as a result of what happened to you in the hospital on a day you spent years dreaming about, but no time planning for.

Continue reading at HuffPost Parents… 

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Parenting Never Gets Easier

When my daughter, now 4, was an infant, I thought having a baby was the hardest thing in the whole entire world. It was my Everest. Everything about it was hard. The nonstop crying, the constant breastfeeding, the being exhausted and hormonal all the time. There’s a pretty good reason why I thought that: because it is hard. And no matter how many people have said it before me, that doesn’t make it any less true. It is just so damn hard.

But the mistake I made was waiting, hoping, wishing for it to get easier. All this waiting I did for things to get easier and while the postpartum fog did lift at some point, as I slowly came out of the trenches and back into the world where actual human beings lived, it never really did. The demands of parenting never really got easier. They just shifted.

Continue reading at HuffPost Parents… 

 

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1,000+ Followers Giveaway!

As promised, giveaway time is here!!! I’m super excited because I’ve never done a giveaway on this site before and I really wanted to have one as a thank you to you all for supporting my writing efforts on this site, as well as the other sites I write for. If I didn’t get encouragement from readers on Facebook and Twitter and on this blog, I probably would not be so passionate about sharing my parenting failings and dilemmas. But I really love doing it so THANK YOU for allowing me to. THANK YOU for following and THANK YOU for not boo-ing me out of town (although, on occasion, some of you have, but that’s okay!!)

Wanna find out what I’m giving away? Okay, here it is.

First up, we have this beautiful print 8×10 by my mama friend and artist “Miranda Makes”. Check out her beautiful Etsy shop, House of Love. This print is a part of her “transportation series” and I just picked one up over at our local Amuse Toy store in Baltimore to decorate my son’s nursery! It sells on Etsy for $20 but our lucky winner gets one just for being so awesomePRINT

Next up! I Heart My Little A-holes by the witty and hilariously self-depricating, Karen Alpert who writes at Baby Sideburns. I LOVE THIS WOMAN. If you don’t follow her page on facebook do it RIGHT NOW. I’m so excited to give a copy of her book to you!

 I Heart My Little A-holes by Karen Alpert

Last but not least, we have a packet of stick-on labels from Kidecals! These are pretty awesome. I use them for labeling things in my kitchen mostly, but the possibilities endless. They are personalized labels that are dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer safe!  Plus they stick to any surface. You can use them on clothing, backpacks, toys, devices…you name it. cloudchalkboard-2-ld1-150x150

All you have to do to enter is…

  1. “LIKE” The Mediocre Mama on Facebook (make sure you are liking not from a business or community page, but from a personal account, otherwise facebook will not count your “like”. 
  2. “LIKE” and share this giveaway directly from Facebook. 

Good luck!!! Thanks to all who enter and to our wonderful contributors. Please go check out their products! I’ll be picking a winner at 2 pm next Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 .