Mama is Homeless

Yup. Sold our sweet little farm house and moved all that shit out. Figured it was time for an update. We have moved in with the ‘rents while our new digs is being thrown together. Thrown together on an amazing piece of land, in the same, picturesque town in Vermont with which we have fallen in love over the last eight years. And by digs, I mean, house of our dreams. Well, realistic dreams, at least. But now we are waiting. Our shit is in storage and did I mention that we moved in with my parents…? Which I am dying to write about but since they may be reading this and I don’t want to end up truly homeless, I can’t. But you’re really missing out on some go-od stuff folks…

So unfortunately, I can’t tell you about how on our second night back under this roof (in nearly fifteen years) we listened to my parent’s argue about whether my mother snores. It was only when my mother smugly thought she had convinced us of her silent slumber habits that my father presented to us an audio recording of the previous night, evidencing the see-sawing. As they giggled on the opposing couch, I glanced at my husband. Eyes wide, we exchanged the same what-the-fuck-have-we-gotten-ourselves-into look.

Nope. I can’t tell you that. And I also can’t tell you about trying to explain Facebook to my father. Dear. God. I can’t tell you about an argument over who’s drinking the orange juice with pulp or who missed their morning wake-up call for the shower, making everyone late for work. (Yes, we are really sharing one shower.) I can’t tell you about how hard it is to live with people around all the motherhumping time. And I can’t tell you that I am sure the adjustment for us was equally as profound for my parents.

But what I can tell you is that two weeks ago, I watched someone very close to me end a long term relationship. I witnessed her heartache and break. And then I helped her move her stuff out and in with family. What I can tell you, that was never as apparent to me before is that family is everything. Everything. Witnessing her fall, only to be caught, held up by people who love her was eye-opening.

We spend so much time focusing on the things we have. We work to buy more things. We pay bills, go on vacations, buy toys, clothes, electronics. At this moment, near 95% of those things are in a 12 foot by 15 foot concrete storage unit. And we are still happy. All that shit we thought we needed- buying and using- and without it, we are still happy.

I can deal with the nit-picking about OJ and the annoyance of breaking down a grocery bill or deciding how to split up the Costco case of toilet paper. I can deal with waiting for the shower now and then so my mother can shave her legs or with the car shuffle in the driveway. Did I mention that two weeks in, the washer broke…? Eyes on the prize: A new home. It’s family stuff. And I am at this moment very grateful for this family. And most of the stuff that comes along with that. As far as the audio of snoring or explaining Facebook to those over age 60… Well, ask me again in a month.

Peace, Mamas.

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Bye, Bye Booby

For real.  This, the eve of his third birthday, also marks one month since Zook last nursed.  A few months back, I posted about my little guy giving up his nightly boob.  Sad, but not really surprising.  He was two and a half…  So although we did not nurse before bed, he awoke craving his mama’s milk instantly as his eyes opened.  And it went on like this for quite a while.  I had no clue that it would go on this long.  But it did.

Zook is my last baby.  Our family of five is complete.  What is apparent to most parents after two children became a blaring reality after he was born: Children are a lot of work.  And making sure that they all survive the day is also a lot of work.  So I relished in our nursing relationship- the Journey as many call it- because I knew this was the last chance I would have to grow this bond with a child.  I never thought of myself as an extended breastfeeder- not that I had any judgments about people who breastfed past a year… or two… or three… I just did’t think it was for me.  And then I was that Mama.

He just never appeared to be a toddler or (gulp) a preschooler.  He just looked so much like my baby that I was blind to the progression of his increasing age.  With each passing month, I thought surely it would be any day.  I was sure that after his second birthday, he would give it up but just like so many other things, the books were wrong about this too.  After his second birthday, I began scrutinizing about each session.  I gave myself such a hard time. And it was stupid because I was the only one putting the pressure on to kick this.  My husband was more than supportive- half because he relied on me to “give him a boob” to get our insanely temperamental sweet child to shut the F up calm down in any public setting.   And the other half of the reason he was so supportive was because he saw how much it meant to our little guy.  Don’t you think he’s a little old? I would say.  According to who?  He’d answer.  But do you think he still really needs it?  I’d say.  Look how much he loves it.  If it still works for you, don’t take it away from him.  He’d say.  For real.  (Reminder: Hug this man.)  So I just decided to go with it.  

Slowly, he would miss a morning booby sesh.  Then he would miss a day.  And then two.  And then three…  And then.  It was gone.  Still, one month later, the sadness creeps into my throat.  But I am comforted by the idea that he weaned me as much as himself.  Had he cut me off, I would have been heart-broken.  (Yes, folks, this was about me too.)  So he weaned me.  Slowly, and on his terms.  This happened just the way it was supposed to.  It was true self-weaning.  It was hard and there were times I wanted to give up- just as much as there were times that I wanted to offer when he didn’t need it.  But I let him decide what he wanted- what he needed- and trusted he would find his way.  I trusted him to find our way.

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Now, I’ll admit that I boarder on control freak (who am I kidding, I am a total control freak but I can’t really admit that because it sounds horrible… but this is Real) and because of this, I have a hard time letting my kids decide what’s best for them.  Of course you have to wear a hat, it’s 30 degrees outside!  You need to fill out your reading journal!  Take two more bites of breakfast!  Finish your milk!  Now what if we treated them like… humans?  Humans who are capable of making decisions for themselves.  I know I am making a huge leap here but if letting a near-three year old decide when he’s done nursing has taught me anything, it’s that we don’t give our children far enough credit for knowing what they need and when they need it.  We make so many decisions for them.  And some of them are necessary but are they all…?  I am not so sure anymore.

For some of you reading this, you may be welcoming me to the room: you’ve already made a decision to raise your kids this way.  To some, the idea of letting your kids make autonomous choices may seem ridiculous.  To the latter group, try to entertain this idea.  I’m still totally forcing my kids to wear their seatbelts, brush their teeth and use their manners but if they choose not to wear a hat, maybe I will let them (and shove it in my purse to hand off when they start to cry that their ears are cold) or maybe I will allow them to leave the table without finishing breakfast… they will be hungry but they won’t die.  Maybe they would make a better choice the next morning.

I don’t pretend to know where to draw that line and I am in no way telling you how to raise your kiddos.  But what I am saying is that our children are crazy smart.  They know what they are doing more of the time than we acknowledge.  Consider this.  My three year old clung to my breast until he slowly decided he didn’t need it anymore.  And then he was done.  On his terms.  I let go of the control.  And it worked out really well.  Bye, bye Booby.  Hello Independence.

Peace, Mamas.

Mama Needs an Outlet

An outlet.  An outlet for frustration, exhaustion, stress and yes sometimes anger.  Mama needs an outlet.  Sometimes that outlet comes in the form of a few stolen minutes with a book (which does not rhyme or have pictures), a television show (with no songs or matching games) or an uninterrupted phone call (not with the nurse from the pediatrician’s office describing in great detail the color of your child’s snot).  The thing is we don’t have enough of them because we spend so much time with the f’n kids- which seemed like a great idea at one point…

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I am a sponge, absorbing all the fears, anxieties and concerns my children have.  I am an outlet for their worries: Who will I sit with at lunch?  Where does the library book go?  What if there is a fire alarm?  Will Emma invite me to her birthday party?  I lost my Croc.  Harry told me there are tiny bugs on my toothbrush.  Julie went home today because she had an itchy head.  Oh dear god.  All these worries are unloaded on Mama.  And in turn, I make their fears go away, all the while soaking in the worries and carrying them now as my own.

And they are heavy.

In addition to the concerns they have, there are more: Do I have enough gas to make it to the gas station?  And what if I run out of gas?  Do we all walk down the road together?  What do I carry the gas back to the car with?  Do I have my credit card?  Did that bill get mailed out on time?  When is that conference for Cub?  Crap, I forgot cat food.  How are we going to retire before we are 80?  Is the fucking government still shut down?  These are the day-to-day thoughts that run wild, flitting from one concern to the next.

And they are heavy.

On top of home concerns, there’s a butt-load of work anxiety too: When is that deadline?  Can I rely on her to have that to me on time?  Can I really refrain from screaming at that meeting?  What is my password again?  No, I don’t give a shit about how your dog woke you up last night or the cute thing he does when you walk in the door.  I hope I am the only one who can smell my armpits right now…  The work worry compounds the home worry and the kid worry…

And it’s heavy.  Break-your-back-heavy.

And it’s okay.  It’s normal.  I know this now.  I have accepted worry as a part of my life that will always be there.  Lurking.  As I would sit in the dark, nursing my babe, new to Mamahood, I would run through worse-case scenarios.  What happens if I drop him?  What if when I am in the shower, the cat smother’s him?  Is that real?  What happens if I wake up in the morning and find that someone has taken my baby?  Where would I look?  Thank god I turned off Lifetime and Dateline.  I spent so much time letting in all of this stuff.  And that’s just what it is, right? Stuff.  It’s taking up space in my already cloudy mind.  Taking up so much space that sometimes, I don’t have enough time to let in the good stuff.  The stuff I should be focusing on.

Mama needs an outlet.  I found that in running.   This weekend, I finished my first 5K.  And it felt awesome.  I trained for it, planned for it and did it.  All for me.  For the first time in my career as a Mama, I did something for myself.  I ran in the evenings, while husband put the kids to bed (added bonus), I ran on my lunch break at work (yes, my armpits were totally smelly), I ran on the weekends at 7:00 in the morning.  I ran in the rain.  I ran for me.  This was my outlet.

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Find your outlet Mamas.  Let out all that you let in.  Unload the worry you carry for your kids, your homes, your husbands, your jobs.  Let. That. Shit. Out.  Because then you can breathe again.  It has taken me eight years to find my outlet- far, far too long.  It was a disservice to my children and myself.  I could have been a better Mama.  I should have focused on the good stuff. I am making up for it now.  I have my outlet and I am not going to ignore the deep necessity to have something of my own.  It’s not selfish or greedy.  It’s enriching and empowering.  Find that outlet.  Even if it’s wine.

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Peace, Mamas.

Back on the Wagon… Again

My name is Sarah Russell.  I am a yell-aholic.  I have been yell-free for eight days.

So here we are.  Day Eight.  Many, many events have taken place in the past month or so.  Mainly summer vacation hit me like a ton of bricks.  The first couple weeks were quite euphoric.  I was craving the lax of no school, no obligations, no pressure… Until that’s just what I got.  Sure, the relaxed nature of our days is easier in some ways but I am not sure the pros have outweighed the cons because something happens when you don’t have to answer to school, sports practices, preschool pick-up and bus schedules: You get lazy.  And I am not just talking about lazy like Oh I’m just going to lay around— no, no.  Lazy like, I’m going to take a little break from parenting.  Lazy like, I’m going to ignore the bickering for just a little bit too long.  Lazy like, I’m going to say sure to that (store bought) cookie because you can get it for yourself and I don’t have to get up from Pinteresting to cut you up a goddamn piece of fruit.  You want to watch TV for an extra hour?  Sure.  You want to play video games past the 20 minute limit?  Go for it.  Your brother kicked you because you– oh nevermind.  Get another cookie.

And as I am sure you can imagine, the cart plummeted off the cliff at the intersection of lazy parenting and children gone wild.  Ugh.  Something had to change.  I was unhappy.  I felt like shit.  The summer was passing us by and I was like an indifferent, stinky high school student on summer vacation.  And then it hit me.  This isn’t my summer vacation.  It’s theirs.   What was my problem?  I was so looking forward to slacking off and then I realized I was wasting their vacation by being self-absorbed and lame.  Mama Fail.

So we went on a trip and spent a week at the ocean.  It was amazing.  On our last day, we had a very stressful travel itinerary and I knew that to keep us from living in a constant state of chaos while one humiliating meltdown blends into another, it was gong to take everything I had in me– which was not a whole hell of a lot considering the steady BAC I was able to maintain for six straight days (impressive, I know).  The night before, I panicked and fell back on the No Yell Challenge.  It was the only tool in my cloudy, liquor-saturated box.  I needed the No Yell Challenge.  And I needed to get Husband on board.  We needed to work as a team- not as ring leaders of t this dysfunctional circus we had operated for  the last couple months.

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Despite the whining, crying and annoying complaining of the next 24 hours, I managed to remain in control.  I did not lose my temper.  And when I was close, Husband became quite adept at identifying the bulging vein in my forehead and stepped in as needed.  We even high-fived each other.  Twice.  As I sat, crammed in between a sweet child and a fat, crabby Canadian (both snoring with drool hanging from their lips), I realized that I can do this.  And I owe it to these amazing little humans I brought into this world to be better.  Better at playing with them.  Better at listening to them.  Better at  guiding them.  

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So here we are.  Day Eight.  I’m doing it.  I have not yelled.  I have taken deep breaths.  I work so hard every day to be patient, kind and attentive.  It’s tough, I won’t lie.  But I feel so much better at the end of the day.  Instead of the guilt-stricken recap, I wrack my mind thinking of little things I can do to make them smile the next day.  And then I do them.   I have left tasks unfinished to read to them.  I have forgone errands to take them to the beach.  I have put my phone down to play with them.  Relishing the feelings which swell as they grab for my hand, turn to smile at me or as I catch them pretending.  This is their summer vacation.  My summer vacation is over.  Or maybe it’s just now beginning.

Peace, Mamas.

Love is Free

I’m going out on a limb here but I think everyone should have an opinion on something.  If you don’t have an opinion you can’t really be relevant.  So here goes.  I had a conversation with someone today about parenting.  But I think it goes deeper than parenting.  Read on.

A man disclosed to me today that he was struggling terribly with his sixteen year old son.  The child is in an alternative school setting as he was removed from a traditional school setting due to violence and complete disregard for rules and authority.  It’s true that traditional school is not the right placement for all children however, I feel strongly that the school failed this child.  Nevertheless, the child has been exhibiting violent behaviors, cutting and most recently drinking.  The father stated that he came home to find his son sleeping and when he awoke him, he found that he was heavily intoxicated.  I asked how he had disciplined his son to which he responded I gave up on discipline a long time ago.  My wife doesn’t back me up and if we can’t be a united front, it’s never going to work so I just stay away from it.  Me, probing: Don’t you feel like he was testing you? Like he wanted to see where your hard line was?  If you didn’t draw the line at drinking, do you think he may push that line further the next time?  Maybe… maybe.  But he was so sick, I don’t think he’ll do it again for a while.  He already smokes.  And I know he’s gettin’ into pills too.  Ah, what can you do.  Kids.

I’m not sure I mentioned this before but I am a social worker.  At my past job, I assisted people experiencing homelessness with finding housing, obtaining medical, mental health and substance abuse treatment, creating resumes, repairing credit and provided support with transitioning from years in prison.  In my current position, I oversee a wellness program for seniors, people with disabilities and families who live in public housing.  I have seen poverty.  Motivated addicts, coached offenders, supported parents who have lost their children or are in the process of getting them back and made reports for them to be removed.  And what I can surmise from all this I have bared witness, what I can draw from these life events which may appear critical, is that they are chronic.  They are part of a chronic cycle that was learned, from one generation to the next.  Passed down like a quilt or a recipe, these cycles of abuse, poverty and drug use are to blame for the generations of dysfunctional behaviors which will follow.  These cycles are powerful.  This life we know is not fair to humans who are born into a field which is not level.  These cycles take such incredible strength to overcome that it can seem nearly impossible.

Sounds discouraging right?  That generations compounded by poverty will just continue over and over again.  Well here’s the kicker: Love is Free.  Love, patience and time do not cost a penny.  This man, sitting across from me today need do nothing more than to go home to his son and prove to him that he cares.  Tell him he loves him and that he’s not going to stand by and watch him give up on life.  The father has not been provided the skills to do this because his father didn’t give a shit either.  It’s a total cop out to say that but it’s true.  Love is free.

I am often struck by a quote from Gandhi: Be the change you wish to see in the world.  Well here’s the change I wish to see in the world: I want it to be better for my kids than it was for me.  I want the world they grow up in to not have nuclear bombs, ethnic cleansing and genocide.  I want them to know only of kindness to humans and respect for this earth we share with plants and animals alike.  I want my children to recognize when a fellow human needs help.  And help.  I want them to find partners they love and make babies and love them.  Really love them.  No small feat.  But I would dare to wager that many, many parents want the same thing for their children.  Even the gentleman I spoke with today.  He is a good person.  He works hard.  He’s lost hope that his son can see and appreciate the wonderful things in this world.  Just as soon as he remembers how to care about those things, he can inspire his child to see them to.

So Mamas (and Papas) be that change.  I’m not a person who judges.  And I certainly don’t claim to have things figured out- and I very seldom give advice without being asked but I am right here and now telling you- begging you- to see that good in the world and challenge your children to find it too.  Because my kids have to live in this world with your kids.   And my grandchildren have to live with your grandchildren.  Be that change.  And love your children.  Give them your time.  Grace them with your patience.  It will not lighten your wallet but it will make our world that much richer.

Peace, Mamas.

Mama Needs to Rally

Do you ever just feel like giving in to this chaos?  Like you are walking around in circles and into walls all day long?  Yeah?  Well join the club.  There are many wonderful things about motherhood.  And I do so adore my children.  And sometimes I want to throw them through the wall.  The whining is what’s been getting to me the most lately.  And with the end of the school year, I am feeling like I just don’t give a shit anymore.  Cub went to school twice this week with a jelly sandwich for lunch and guess what he’s having tomorrow… Sorry little dude.  Although he looks at this like a treat, I’m still feeling shitty about it.  I wonder what those lunch ladies think when the see what the kids have to eat at this time of year… Who else sorta gave up on packing a lunch encompassing the different food groups?  C’mon.  Where’s my slacker Mamas at?

The truth is I’m just tired.  Husband forgot to grab a key item required for dinner tonight so Mama had to stop at the store on the way home from work- along with 40,000 other Mamas whose husbands forgot shit too.  Do you switch lines when the competency level of the cashier is revealed or when you notice a handful of coupons in the customer’s hands in front of you?  Normally, I am not a switcher but my anxiety about getting home, dinner, showers and the bullshit that would greet me at the door got the better of me.  I made two bad switches before I realized it made no difference.  I was stuck in a suck line behind a suck customer and a suck cashier.  Great.  My husband calls while I am pulling out of the parking lot.  I can hear screaming in the background.  Shit.  The high point of my day came when my dear friend texted me to inform me that (thankfully her children are nearly as screwed up as mine or I’m not sure we could be friends) her son told another child at daycare that she smelled like a penis.  Boys. Rock.  And that actually gave me some of my energy back and lightened my mood a bit.

When I pulled in the driveway, I could hear the screaming of the “chase game” from the driveway.  Rally.  Dinner was nuts.  Zook is crying.  Why is he crying?  He wants a spoon.  Wait he wants a fork.  Wait he wants ice cream.  With a fork.  Ugh.  Unload dishwasher, load dishwasher, pick up the corn and rice off the floor.  At this point, I actually almost started to cry.  I think because I realized that there wasn’t a clean kitchen towel in the drawer.  And I knew there wasn’t one in the basket upstairs either.  And yes, it sounds trivial but the absence of the kitchen towel midst the crying and demands of Zook, the whining and arguing of Mooch and Cub and the fact that I still had so far, so far to go before the calm could set in, really, really started to get to me.  Suck it up Mama.  Rally.  Showers, screaming , soap in eyes (it’s the tearless kind for God’s sake!) clip 60 (yes, 60) nails.  Read an Elmo book.  God I hate Elmo.  Quiet.  Snuggling my babies with warm soft hands on my cheeks.  Almost there.  Lights out and done.  Breathe.  And good news folks!  We get to do it all over again in 24 hours!

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There are just not enough hours in the day- so cliche right?  So true.  I am barely getting by here.  Summer has got to come.  No more homework, no more projects, no more searching for library books or forgetting sneakers on gym day.  No more hunting for the perfect item for Share Day.  Oh sweet summer.  I think I am craving the serenity more than my kids.

Rally.  That’s what I feel like most of my life has come to lately.  I am so tired.  Stretched to the point of exhaustion.  And I know that’s the reason I yell and have a lack of patience.  I know it’s me and not them.  But (I am about to admit something terrible here) sometimes I feel like I just don’t want to care anymore.  Like I am just done trying.  I know I shouldn’t yell and sometimes in the moment, I even think Why am I yelling right now?  Stop!  Stop it, Mama!  But no.  I yell and spend the next hour feeling like shit.  That’s more the cycle I speak of.  More than the chores and endless whining from the kids.  It’s me.  Mamas (and the Papas) reading this who have toddlers and babies… I used to be like you.  Said I wasn’t going to yell.  Said I wasn’t going to lose my temper.  Read all those Zen parenting books and blogs.  And then my kids could talk back.  And that all went out the window.  This is a judgement-free zone.

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So where do we go from here?  We start over.  Tomorrow the sun will rise again.  The cycle might start again.  Or it might not.  I am not in control of their behavior.  But I need to be fully in control of my own.  And of my responses to their behavior.  Breathe.  Tomorrow I’ll be back on the wagon.  It won’t be perfect but as long as I keep trying to make things better.  As long as I keep giving a shit.  I can do better.  I owe it to them (and myself) to be better.  And that’s all I can do.  Rally.

Peace, Mamas.

A Kid-friendly Meal?! Oh Hell Yeah!

Yes, it’s true…  My entire family ate this meal.  It was amazing!

The main idea with any meal is fresh, natural and local.  We make every effort to consume foods which are grown withing 100 miles of our home.  In addition, I steer away from corn and legumes unless they are organic and non-GMO (genetically modified organisms).  In fact, I try to entirely stay away from foods containing GMOs.  Why would I want to feed my family man-made food?!  Recently, I came across a wonderful site which maintains a registry of non-GMO foods. The Non-GMO Project, website here, lists foods and brands which are registered as non-GMO.  I was very surprised that many of the items in the natural foods section contain GMOs.  Kashi?!  Yes, Kashi.  Why are these foods not labeled, you ask?  Well, here in Vermont, we are working very hard to make that happen.  Stay tuned!  Quality food is something I’m rather obsessed with and there are worse things to obsess over.  The fuel we ingest determines the efficiency of our bodily functions- which is essential to life.  Off the soap box for now and on with the show.

Brace yourself… Here comes dinner!  Who likes what, who won’t eat what and who throws a fit.  Not tonight…  Oh hel-lo Chicken Won-Ton Cups!  Using delicious, free-range, local chicken breasts, non-GMO won ton wraps, organic cabbage and carrots, I pulled off a winning meal that everyone loved.  I deconstructed it a little for the kiddos- they prefer raw veggies and weren’t super into the cabbage but since I planned for this ahead of time, we were golden!

Here’s the low-down:

  • 1lb. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • Half head of cabbage, shredded or sliced very thinly
  • 4 Carrots, julienned (cut into matchsticks)
  • 24 Won ton wraps
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • Cooking Spray
  • 2 tablespoons Soy sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray two 12-cup muffin tins with cooking spray.  Gently push one won ton wrap into each muffin cup, bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges just begin to brown.  Spray non-stick skillet with a little cooking spray, add chicken. Once the chicken is cooked through, add the soy sauce and cook down for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the EVOO on med-high heat and add the cabbage and carrots.  Saute until the cabbage begins to brown slightly and the carrots are tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Assemble, using the won ton as a cup for the cabbage, carrots and chicken.  Voila!

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I think the kids were quite intrigued with the idea of eating dinner from an edible cup.  They did not eat the carrot-cabbage mixture so instead used raw carrots and tomatoes along with the chicken.  The idea of using the cups got me to thinking about different food combos that could be subbed.  There will surely be some experimenting!  Enjoy these with additional soy sauce if you desire but we didn’t need any- the flavor was delicious and perfect!

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Lastly, I decided on Sunday that I would renew my commitment to the No Yell Challenge.  And I am happy to report that it’s been a success!  A huge success, actually.  I have stayed true to not yelling.  Exhausted my patience, been empathetic and all that nice warm and fuzzy shit.  And it’s working.  I have also been really diligent about telling my children how much they mean to me.   At a few points during the day, I have tried to quantify my love for them in a way that might make sense.  By committing to this, it’s really forced me to think positively about how I parent.  Inadvertently, I have changed up my vocabulary and tone of voice because I need to make my actions reflect my feelings.  Tough but not impossible.  I feel great and I really think they do as well.  Win-win!

And I leave for my trip on Monday…  This has been on my mind for the last week and I can feel my anxiety mounting as the date gets closer.  Instead of dwelling on leaving my little guys (and my big guy), I have poured myself into making these last days with them count.  So far, my avoidance and denial have worked out nicely…

Peace Mamas!

 

Some Love for the Husbands

I swore I wouldn’t do it but here is a post about my husband.  We had a rough weekend.  Mainly Mother’s Day kind of sucked.  But I’m glad it sucked because since, things have gotten a whole lot better.  In my last post, you may have read a bit about the terror/love that is my youngest, Zook.  He exhausts an exorbitant amount of my energy lately with his tantrums, crying and all-around-pain-in-the- assness (yes, assness is totally a word).  The self-control I have to exert is so great that I haven’t had a ton of energy left over for anything else.  Including my husband.

Growing apart is strange.  It’s such a slow process yet, when you look back, it seems like you can’t really tell quite when things got to be this way.  And to be clear, I am not really sure I’d say that we grew apart I’d just say that we became a little distant.  I of course, so consumed with the insanity of dealing with my little monster, was clueless.

So we had a fight.  On Mother’s Day.  One of those fights that starts out over something so minute that you can’t really even put your finger on it but you wish it never happened because then the snowball starts to roll… It gets bigger… It seems to be rolling so quickly and become so dense that it’s nearly impossible to stop.  You know where I’m going with this, right?  My sweet, loving sensitive husband fessed up to his feelings and I felt horrible.

I thought that we just didn’t have time for each other right now and in a few years when this crazy amusement ride slows a bit, we would be able to talk again, spend time together again.  What we both learned was something you always hear from other people, you admit that it’s true but always think you’re doing enough: Relationships take work.  Living together, being permanent roommates, isn’t bad- it’s just not as much fun.  We need to create opportunities to spend time together, talk together and be a couple.  I knew this was important but I don’t think until this weekend, I realized just how essential it really is to being happy.

I already feel the shift.  We are working together, looking forward to spending time together, making plans for alone time.  We are sneaking smiles to each other midst the morning shuffle, flirting with each other.  It’s been two days and already, I feel we are back on track.  So as gradual as the shift to the dark side can be, this rerouting toward the light has taken place nearly instantly.  This man is truly my best friend and everything that I can’t be sometimes.  He knows me.  He knows what I need from him.  I know what he needs from me.  We needed the argument this weekend.

So not only do I feel better about us, I feel better about parenting together too.  Tonight, I was upstairs dealing with the kids, trying to get them to bed, no one was listening, one child was already asleep and if someone woke him up…  Just as I was about to beat some bitches up, hubby came up.  He touched me on my shoulder.  I got this.  You can go down.  In. Love.

We have changed.  We are growing together.  There is no one else I want to work this crazy gig with.

And we are having a Mother’s Day Do-Over next weekend.   Peace Mamas.

Breaking Up With the Breast

It’s happening.  This is really happening.  And just when I said self-weaning was bullshit.  Don’t worry, this isn’t turning into a breastfeeding blog, because that’s coming abruptly to an end.  For the second consecutive night, my little guy sheepishly crawled in with a brother and snuggled in.  Without me. Without me.  Without his Mama.

This moment has been on my mind all day.  It was my first thought this morning, consumed my commute to work, filled the spaces in my mind during meetings, brought on an ache in my throat after lunch.  I was distracted as I watched my oldest play lacrosse tonight, at dinner and in the yard.  As I watched that sweet boy run and throw his head back in laughter, rolling in the grass, flashing me that toothy, goofy smile, I knew bedtime was coming.  We brushed teeth, I held my breath.  Climbed the stairs, put jammies on.  Stomach tightening, Are you going to sleep with your brother again tonight?  Yes.

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And all of a sudden, this became a story about a Mama losing her baby.  If reading that doesn’t signal the pierce of a tear, the sting of your nose, or your breath to catch, I can tell you that as a Mama, short of tragedy, there may be no greater loss.  So here is the raw truth: We want our children to grow, learn, become.  But the instances when they start to leave us are both the most heart-breaking and heart-filling moments we may ever experience.  A child turning from what was once the only comfort he knew, while causing undeniable pain, is a Mama’s greatest accomplishment.  We raise our children to leave us.  But the moment it actually happens is nothing we could have fathomed before that point.

This is also the story of a baby growing into a child.  He’s not leaving his Mama, he just needs her a little less.  We need to learn to bond in a different way.  I am beyond thankful that he is choosing this path on his own will.  I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I’d wondered if it was time or thought about how we would do this.  He’s taken the guesswork out of the process.  I’m trying not to let this break my heart.  Trying so hard to accept his choice.  I never, in my whole life, thought I’d grow so attached to nursing.  It’s not the act of nursing, it’s the connection we share at the end of the day.  Correction: It’s the connected we shared at the end of the day.

My heart feels heavy and light tonight, if that’s possible.  So much of Mamahood is filled with experiences which are both the best and worst thing all at once.  I’m living in the moment; documenting these moments, pouring my guts out because I need to not feel alone in this.  I know I’m not.  I know there are a many of Mamas nodding their heads right now.  Thank you Mamas.  I know there maybe some who are not Mamas reading too- and hopefully now you get it.  Now you get a peek into this world of being a Mama.  The struggle, the success, the pain, the bliss.  The Love.

Peace Mamas.

Sunday Reset: The Hike

This weekend, the weather in Vermont was amazing!  Gorgeous, warm and bright.  As I eluded to in a previous post, we live in a very old farm house, built in 1870.  When we moved in, as stupid young homeowners, we thought we’d have it looking just the way we envisioned within a matter of months.  Ha.  So six years, three kids, two ER visits, and thousands of dollars later our house is finally the way we envisioned.  Many sacrifices have been made along the way but the compromises I feel most shame about are the missed family moments.  Time we should have spent with the kids was spent hemorrhaging funds our home.  Last weekend, we finished the last project… Which meant this weekend was long-overdue family time.

We decided today was the perfect day for a hike.  Frequently in the warm months, we climb the trail to the top of Mount Philo.  Barely a mountain, it boasts what I believe to be one of the best scenic views in our beautiful state.

Along the way, we took note of our surroundings.  My oldest was excited to record his observations in his journal (which of course I was carrying, along with the snacks, drinks, etc.).

Once at the top, he quickly began working away in his journal.  I spent a great deal of time watching his steady pencil strokes, his even lines and the concentration which spread across his face was inspiring.  This child has so many gifts.

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This hike was significant as it was the first trek my youngest made on his own two legs.  He reveled in the landscape and though it took us a little longer as he needed to inspect holes, roots, rocks and bark, it was he who was more proud than I when we reached the top.  Unfortunately, he quickly had an accident.  And though I had many (many, many) items in the pack on my back, a change of clothes was not among them.  Ugh.  Luckily, his older brother was wearing boxer briefs and had no hesitation about loaning them.  And even luckier still, my youngest was delighted to wear nothing but his brother’s unders for our journey down the mountain.  Crisis averted.

Photo1 (9)Spending this time as a family felt refreshing and filled my heart with love, my veins with patience which will hopefully last through the week.  Being active, in nature, hearing their excitement about new surroundings made me breathe in their curiosity along with the fresh air.  A day I will remember for long time.  My children are outside all the time and I am with them… But so much of the time I watch them.  Observe them.  But to experience the outdoors alongside them was a treat (for both of us) I don’t normally indulge.  I feel that it made a difference for them as well.  There was no whining (really!) and such powerful enthusiasm.  The good moods and possitivity followed us all through the day.  Get out with your kids.  Experience nature together!  Peace Mamas!

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