When Mommy Has a Meltdown

When Mommy Has a Meltdowna poem for my kids

When Mommy has a meltdown

There may be a thousand reasons why

But one of those isn’t you sweet girl

How could you make mom cry?

 

Couldn’t be your hits and bites

Or your ever-shorter fuse.

Not even your “Don’t look at me”

Could cause this mom to lose

 

All sense of peace and self-control

All strength to stop the flow

Of tears and sobs and weeps and cries

That bring a whole new low.

 

When Mommy has a meltdown

It’s just best to let her be.

Let her cry into her hands

And wipe mascara from her cheeks.

 

Oh my sweet girl the truth might be

That Mommy’s just too tired

To keep her tear ducts locked up tight

She didn’t get the sleep required

 

To be the mom you need today

The puppeteer, Mr. Bear, the chauffeur.

To cart you to your many things

Might be too much for her.

 

When Mommy has a meltdown

She’s not at her best.

Just ask to turn on Daniel Tiger

So she can take a rest.

 

Melting down can be the result

Of playing the comparison game

To other moms she doesn’t know

Who seem not to struggle the same.

 

Other moms who put makeup on

And have their hair curled and styled

Who keep themselves put together

And of course have control of their child.

 

When Mommy has a meltdown

She just might need a break

A chance to rediscover

The difference she could make.

 

The very thing that she was meant

To be, to do, to see.

Finding this, she’ll come alive

Inside and outside her family.

 

So tell your Daddy or a friend

To give your mom some space.

A quiet time, a girls’ night out,

To find her happy place.

 

When Mommy has a meltdown

Wrap your arms around her tight.

Tell her she is doing great.

That she is doing lots of right.

 

That she’s the best mom on the planet.

You couldn’t ask for more.

She’s teaching you all sorts of things

About the world outside your door.

 

She’s teaching you to love

To be patient and be kind.

She’s the one you look up to

Who you want to be just like.

 

This, here, is a Run Out the Clock Situation

It’s funny when Stanley says this on The Office, but not in real life people!

run out the clock

The scene: Picking up Josie and Cal from daycare.  2 hours and 23 minutes until bedtime.

Josie: I had a nice day!  I was the smiley face leader!  I shared with my friends! 

Then, she refuses to get in the car.  When I get a little stern, she screams.

Josie: Don’t look at me!  Don’t talk to me!

Like a champ, (ahem, Mother of the Year), I trick her into getting in the carseat and teach her why she has to be buckled up.  She belly laughs because she enjoys my story.  I’m hilarious, obviously.  I (naively) think that we’ve turned a corner that will give us anywhere from tolerable to amazing, heart-exploding moments the rest of the evening.

False.

The scene: The bathroom.  Josie is taking a bath.  1 hour and 37 minutes until bedtime.

Me: Josie, if you drink the water one more time, you’re getting out.

Josie drinks water while staring past my eyes into my soul with a smug arrogance only a threenager could pull off.  I pull the plug on the drain and try to keep my blood pressure down.

Me: Josie, get out of the tub or I will get you out of the tub and you will not like it.

(Nothing)

I wrap her in a towel and carry her, kicking and screaming, to her room. 

Me: You can come out when you’ve calmed down, dried yourself off, and put your pajamas on.

Josie screams, but after 15 minutes, is down at the dinner table in mismatched jammies.

And the night continued like this – Dinner (1 hour and 3 minutes until bedtime).  Teeth brushing.  (41 minutes until bedtime).  Toilet using (29 minutes until bedtime).  Everything you could possibly think of was a battle that I didn’t even want to be fighting.  (Is it bedtime yet?!?!)

Why does it seem like the world is absolutely ending when I try to wipe the mustard off of your face?  Unless you had serious plans to consume the leftover mustard in the overnight hours…

Why can’t you just go pee without first throwing yourself on the bathroom floor for 5 minutes?  I never have that trouble…

Why can’t you breeze through your bedtime routine so we can read books and snuggle and tell silly stories about school busses and spiders?  That would’ve been a much nicer end to our day together…

Even when I plopped her into bed, she refused a hug or a kiss.  Unlike her usual, “Check me LOTS!” she said nothing and rolled over.  I said goodnight and closed the door.

When I peeked in to check, she was already asleep.  Poor girl must’ve been super tired if she passed out a half hour early.  Probably better anyhow.

I wanted to tell her that it was all ok.  That tomorrow would be another chance to have a great day.  To be a good listener.  To be gentle and patient.  To be loving and kind.  I didn’t get to tell her that, but she wasn’t the one that needed to hear it.  It was me.  So I’m telling myself and I’m telling you that no matter your day, tomorrow is another chance.  To be the best version of yourself.

Even if tonight was a run out the clock situation at your house, tomorrow doesn’t have to be that way.  And even if it is, that’s ok.  You might not have control of it, and you know I don’t because I take up residence with a husband, a 3-year-old, a baby, and a tiny dog with a pinched nerve.  (What could go wrong?!)

But hope is for all of us.  Take hold, and take heart!  Tomorrow is a new day.

P.S. If you’re a regular reader and are now wondering what I could possibly give myself the Mother of the Year Award for tonight, it’s this: I “tricked” a wildly out of control Josie, who doesn’t like leftovers, into eating leftovers, by mixing BBQ sauce and mustard together for her to dip the very same meal she had last night in.  No cooking for this mama tonight.  Boom.  Mother of the Year.

Meet the Mominator

Mom·in·a·tor-

The Scene:  It’s 3 a.m.  Your tiny chunky 3-month-old baby is breathing rapidly, struggling for air.  You rush in to assess the situation.  He calms in your arms, but not enough to calm you.  This cycle repeats a few more times.  You, now sleep-deprived and swimming in a sea of fear and emotional instability, have a choice to make.

The Scene:  You are walking into a baseball game and your princess-dress-wearing 3-year-old falls and cracks her teeth on the sidewalk.  You, already under scrutiny for having the audacity to bring a screaming child out in public, have a choice to make.

The Scene:  You have been dealing with a painful tear in your shoulder for over a year.  Delayed by misdiagnosis and pregnancy, the time has finally come for some answers and some relief.  Already waffling back and forth between whether you want the results of your MRI to show a problem or not show a problem (thus proving you crazy), you hold your breath as the doctor shares that if these cortisone shots don’t work, surgery is the option and you won’t be able to lift your obese infant and spirited daughter for a month.  You have a choice to make.

The choice to make?  Meet the Mominator in you.  In 3 easy steps.

Step 1: Get yourself to a safe and private location.  Usually, the bathroom works for me.  (Pro Tip: Make sure your children are safe, secure, and unable to witness what comes next.)

Step 2: Let it come.  The tears.  The shortness of breath.  The rational fears and the irrational ones.   Let yourself dissolve into a puddle of ridiculousness as you chase every thought down to the worst possible scenario. (Pro Tip: It only takes 60 seconds for an emotion to take you over and let you go again.  It’s science.)

Step 3: Lock it up.  As quickly as you let the emotions come, let ‘em go. Your time for tears, panic, and uncertainty is over.  You are now the Mominator and you will confidently emerge from your hiding place ready to handle. that. business.  (Pro Tip: Removing any mascara/tear stains from your cheeks makes you more believable.)

Sling on the left arm for a month?  No problem, your right side will get super toned.

No two-front teeth for your 3-year-old?  Cool. Now she’s got a Christmas theme song for the next 2-6 years.

Kid can’t breathe? I’m on it.  Call in reinforcements including but not limited to your family, your hubs, and a team of medical professionals who tell you they can’t find anything wrong with him but if it happens again to bring him back to the ER (where they will probably find nothing wrong with him again).

I saw a quote the other day on Instagram, and it was this: God gave those little children to you, Mama – YOU.  No one else can mother them like you can.  You may have your work cut out for you, but you’re the one cut out to accomplish it.  You and your alter ego, the Mominator.  Go get ’em!

god gave those children to you

8 Things I’ve “Counted” Towards Earning the Mother of the Year Award

Count everything!

I recently shared how I became Mother of the Year, which basically consisted of me giving myself the award every day for any reason possible.  And it got such great response, I thought I’d expand on my first idea of how to get started – which is, COUNT EVERYTHING!

It all began one day when Josie ate more ketchup in one sitting than I thought humanly possible.  At first I thought, “I am the worst.”  Then, in my desperate brain, I made the connection that ketchup is made from tomatoes, tomatoes are technically a fruit, so Josie just ate lots and lots (and lots) of fruit.  And then I sarcastically called myself Mother of the Year!

But something happened in that moment where I decided that I needed to call myself that every day so I don’t get bogged down with the meltdowns and the poopy diapers and the sleepless nights.  So I started counting everything.  This is good practice, so take note.

What Counts on the Road to Winning Mother of the Year? 

Everything.  Like these 8 things.

  1. The Generous Food Pyramid: Anything that is derived from fruits or vegetables counts in this category. Pickles are cucumbers.  Ketchup is tomatoes.  French fries are potatoes.  Peanut butter and jelly is the perfect combination of whole grain, protein, and fruit.
  2. Peanut Butter and Jelly: Here’s where it gets fun. Anytime I give Josie a PBJ I give myself Mother of the Year because of what I mentioned above.  Anytime she gets something other than PBJ for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I also award myself the honor.  Seriously, guys, are you getting this?  Being extremely, overly generous to yourself is what it is all about.
  3. The Donut Ninja: One time I promised Josie a donut on the road to see Grandpa and Grandma. The gas station we stopped at only had Donettes, so I bought the big bag (obviously), and passed her a couple.  Then, because I’m human and was pregnant at the time, I couldn’t stop at just 2, so I secretly reopened the bag without raising suspicion, and shoveled in one tiny piece of heaven at a time until my pregnant self was full of sugar and regret.  It was amazing.  I held conversation with her, and even reclosed the bag.  If you’ve ever tried to sneak ANYTHING (but usually food) past your toddler, you know what a victory this was for me.  It felt good.
  4. Reverse Psychology: Enough said, probably. But here’s what’s working for me now.  Josie’s potty-trained and very adamant that she is only going to use the bathroom when she absolutely has to.  But before bed, I really need her to go to avoid any nighttime wakings or catastrophes.  So most nights my line is, “You know what, Josie?  I bet if you sat on that toilet nothing would even come out.”  And like magic, she’s up there tinkling.  I act all surprised and impressed and she loves it.  The downside is, she will no longer just go to the bathroom without me making this big fuss.  But mission accomplished either way.
  5. Formula Win: Cal is on formula, which is another story for another time. But dang, that stuff is expensive.  And he has expensive taste which is even more expensive.  And as we were figuring out which formula to give him, lots of moms suggested this super ridiculously expensive can of formula that was $40.  $40!!!!  For less than a week’s supply.  And he hated it.  So I called the company and asked for a refund.  Turns out they can’t give me my money but they can send me 2 cans of what he uses now.    And just for fun I called the store to see if I could get a refund on opened formula.  Yes I can.  Boom.  Got $40 back in my pocket and 2 full cans of the good stuff for my little man.  Life lesson: It doesn’t hurt to ask.
  6. The Belle Dress: This one is actually legit.  Josie was going to her first theatre experience to see the musical Beauty and the Beast.  And I really wanted to get her a Belle dress.  $22 at Target, ugh!   I hardly spend that much money on any clothing items for myself.  But I just couldn’t pass it up.  I was like a kid on Christmas Morning, bursting with anticipation and excitement at the thought of giving this gift to her and then watching her wear it to the show.  (Spiritual side note: this must be a glimpse into how excited and delighted God gets when He gives us all the great gifts in our lives!) It was worth every stinking penny.
  7. Laughter is the Best Medicine: Punishing your kid is hard sometimes. But when I put soap in Josie’s mouth for talking back, I just can’t help it.  I grab the first towel/burp cloth/sweater I see, bury my face, and giggle.  And she doesn’t see me do this, so that’s why I earn the award.
  8. Leaving Cal with a Stranger: Josie really really wanted to ride the escalator at the mall. You can’t bring strollers on those things, so I had a dilemma and it must’ve shown on my face, because the Guest Relations lady left her nearby kiosk and offered to keep Cal company while I took Josie for a ride.  And I said SURE!  I left my child with a stranger to watch my other child hop on the escalator like Buddy the Elf.  It was awesome.

So there ya have it.  Mother of the Year.  You guys, we’re doing it.  We’re awesome.  And I’m pretty sure this list proves that.  What crazy ways are you earning Mother of the Year status?

How I Became “Mother of the Year”

As soon as Cal was born, and life got even more nuts than I thought possible, it was hard some days to think that I was doing a good job as a mother.  Self-doubt, you are relentless.

Then, I decided that that is nonsense and the way to fix it was to think about the good things.  This led to me giving myself an award every day.  This award is similar to Michael Scott giving me a Dundie in that it’s pretty easy to earn most days.  (If you don’t know what a Dundie is: A. We can’t be friends, and B. It’s a reference from one of my favorite TV shows on the planet, The Office).  My award is called Mother of the Year.  And like I said, I try to give it to myself every day because chances are, I’ve either done at least one thing that ACTUALLY earns me Mother of the Year, or I facetiously award it to myself on a day where we all barely survived by the skin of our teeth.

Mother of the Year

So how can you become Mother of the Year too?

  1. Count EVERYTHING: This is the first thing I started doing to get in the habit. Follow me on this one.  Ketchup is made from tomatoes.  Tomatoes are a fruit.  Josie ate 7 gallons of ketchup with a spoon for dinner.  Boom.  Mother of the Year.
  2. Kids to bed early: Two wins here. Your kid wins with lots of great sleep.  Josie is almost 3 and still goes to bed at 7pm, and sleeps until 7am.  Girl goes hard during the day and needs her rest.  (She also still naps, FYI).  Cal is on the same schedule.  Both kids are growing and restoring their bodies for 12 hours each night.  And guess what mom is doing?  Hopefully not growing, but definitely restoring my mind and body.  When the kids go to bed, magic and miracles abound.  Even if that means I’m folding laundry on the couch while watching Netflix.  I’m winning.  Kids are winning.  Boom.  Mother of the Year.
  3. Keep the schedule: I’m a BIG schedule person.  A planner.  A Babywise Mom if you’re in the mom circles.  That means I wake Cal up every morning at 7 for his first feeding so we can keep on schedule and know what to expect from our day…well, as much as you can know what to expect with a newborn and a toddler.  And I make plans around the schedule, for my sanity.  And keeping my sanity means…you guessed it!  Boom.  Mother of the Year.
  4. Break the schedule: Well now that’s just confusing. But seriously.  Breaking the schedule for GREAT reasons is the reason you have a schedule in the first place.  A few weeks ago Josie stayed up until midnight.    But it was so she could go to her first theatre experience, Beauty and the Beast.  It was worth EVERY MINUTE!  To see her enthralled in the music and story was a gift to me.  And a gift I had to keep reopening as the next day and for a few days after the sleeplessness got to her and she lost her ever-loving mind on several occasions.  Making memories.  Boom.  Mother of the Year.
  5. Self-Care: Guys, obviously I preach this, and try to practice this as well. But any time during the day that I do something for myself – even something as necessary and elusive as taking a shower – I call it self-care.  And I call it a win.  Boom.  Mother of the Year.
  6. Adios Mom Guilt: This is a topic I want to tread very lightly into, because it is such a real thing for most moms.  But not for me.  I decided a long time ago that I had too many other things that demand my emotional and intellectual capacity that I would not subscribe to Mom Guilt.  And I haven’t.  If a guilty thought comes my way, I dismiss it immediately.  I’m a great mom.  I’m doing my best.  Boom.  Mother of the Year.
  7. Invest in relationships: Although lately these have been few and far between, Ryan and I still do date nights.  Our goal is to sit in the same room, relatively undistracted, with each other one night a week.  Sometimes we talk and plan and dream.  Sometimes we watch Netflix and he falls asleep.  And then when we can, we go out on real dates.  And those are solid gold.  And marriage isn’t the only relationship I’m investing in.  Obviously we love spending time with our families, and I also still keep my standing Monday night with my Monday Night Girls to watch The Bachelor(ette).  And I schedule play dates and coffee dates and girls’ weekends with Mom friends.  I’ve got a wide circle of people who continue to know me and love me.  Boom.  Mother of the Year.
  8. Hone your Mom hands: Oh my gosh, this is my new favorite skill. I think the instant you become a mother, out of instinct or necessity you are able to see a glass fall a split second before it slips out of your kid’s hand and catch it.  I seriously can’t count the times that I’ve saved the day with my Mom hands.  Plus, I’ve also mastered several other skills while only using one hand – like making a PBJ sandwich while holding a baby.  One-handed people.  I dare you.   Boom.  Mother of the Year.
  9. Use the TV: For the first couple years of Josie’s life I was very adamant about NO TV. I’ve read lots of studies about limiting it for kids of all ages, but especially for kids under 2.  So I did.  But now, partly for my sanity and partly because it’s awesome, Daniel Tiger is teaching my kid things I wouldn’t have thought to teach….and teaching it in song.  Brilliant!  He’s got a song about everything from potty-training to sharing to saying goodbye to mom and dad at school.  My personal favorite, which DOES NOT work in the heat of the toddler meltdown, is singing, “Mad, mad, mad.  It helps to say I’m mad.”  Boom.  Mother of the Year.
  10. Stop over-thinking: Classic woman problem. Classic mom problem.  But we were given women’s intuition for this very reason.  Problem with your kid?  You probably already know the right answer.  Check your gut, and move forward.  And if that turns out not to be the fix, cool, try something else.  But to stand paralyzed (usually in front of the computer pouring over mommy forums) thinking through every single possible solution is exhausting and debilitating.  I’m trying to do this less.  Boom.  Mother of the Year.

So what about you?  I’m sure you would be Mother of the Year too if you even thought to give yourself this award!  And if I earn it 3 days a week for counting ketchup as a serving of fruits and vegetables, then I just know you deserve it too.  You’re doing great.  And keep telling yourself that.

Am I Going to Miss This Crazy Stage of Life?

youre-gonna-miss-this.png

You’re gonna miss this.  That’s what they say, and what Trace Adkins so beautifully sings about, and the exact lyrics that I sing out loud at home any time I think about the absurdity of missing whatever chaotic thing is happening at the moment.  And then I burst into tears.

Tears of exhaustion from sleep deprivation, not knowing what the heck I’m doing and usually not even knowing how to pretend like I do, and frustration.  Tears of deep love for my kids and my life.  And just the smallest amount of guilt that I might not be mom enough because I do not think that I will miss any of this, and I think that real moms do.

Of coimg_4127.jpgurse, we are in the thick of it now.  A super sassy almost-3-year-old and an impossible-to-figure-out 7-week old.  And I keep thinking that maybe this newborn thing will get a little easier and it never does.  I keep telling myself over and over that this is a phase.  And someday I will look back on it.  Probably with relief.

I put it out there to my Facebook friends who are past this time in their lives.  Most said almost the exact same thing, coupled with some great advice – I’ll miss some parts and not others!

Lynne – “I miss the cuddles and sweetness of toddlers. I do not miss diapers, bottles and not sleeping! Each stage is wonderful and awful at the same time. I have enjoyed the stages my boys have gone through and going through now (for the most part!) I think of it more as savor the special moments. Don’t get too busy that you can’t enjoy your children. It’s hard when they’re so little. They demand so much more. Savor those special moments. And try not to let the nitty-grittiness of life get in the way.

Kelli – “There are things I miss and things I don’t–true of every stage. Despite being so demanding and exhausting, enjoy the moments. It really goes fast and contrary to what I thought it did not get easier! The older they get the bigger the issues, more impactful are the choices, hard to let them learn on their own when you have the experience. Keep praying and communicating…and remember you are not alone! Other parents face the same things, even if it doesn’t appear that they do! Talking with a mom who has kids a few years older than yours is a great benefit!”

Elizabeth – “This very particular stage you are in….helpless newborn baby, needy toddler, sleepless nights…NOPE, don’t miss that.  A few months out and the years after…yes I will miss those dearly. Pull my hair out craziness most days, but the toddler to preschool stage is the best in my opinion.”

One said, YES you will miss this! 

Sherree – “Yes, you will miss it terribly. This stage of life is where you still have control and the worries are far smaller than what comes later. It is replaced by attitudes, pimples, a driver’s license and dating.”

And her sentiments were echoed by our Radio Theology listeners when I asked for calls on the topic.   They all agreed that time goes too fast and I will miss this baby/toddler stage.  (You can listen to that below.  Spoiler Alert: at one point in this segment I may or may not get sassy with one of the listeners.  Oops!)

Then there was some talk and agreement that even if I will miss it, that’s the worst possible thing you can say to someone who feels like she is drowning, or maybe on good days doggy paddling in the endless ocean of toddler tears and baby poop.  (Wow, there’s an image for ya.)

lean-in.pngAfter processing and digesting all of this, the point, I’ve decided, is not whether I like or dislike this stage, or whether or not I will miss this stage.  But that I lean into my own life.  Actively participate.  In the good and the bad.  One of my favorite quotes from Ann Voskamp is this very idea.  “Joy and pain.  They are put two arteries of the one heart that pumps through all those who don’t numb themselves to really living.”  So when it is tempting to disengage and retreat from my own circumstances, I’ll always try to remember to do the hard work of leaning back in.

I might miss Josie jumping up and down, excited to see me after a day at daycare, but I’ll block out the meltdowns over leaving her at the top of the stairs even though she is fully capable of walking down them herself, not letting her sleep with a toy nut and bolt, or telling her yes for something she asked for and then somehow heard no or decided in a split second that having the very thing she wanted would ruin her life forever.

I will look fondly back at when she took her first steps, but will erase from my memory the months of her spitting up all over the entire world (and somehow always on me and usually down my shirt, her spit up pooling in my bra).

I will try to look back at both Josie and Cal’s newborn phase with joy and gratitude, remembering that they were healthy babies, and will disregard how crazy I felt after the hours of sleep I missed feeding or comforting them in the middle of the night.

I realize in reading back through this that it sounds like I’m absolutely miserable, and that’s just not the case.  We really are doing fine, and much better than the last time I posted.  It’s the moments where I am miserable that all of these emotions come into play.  But I feel like it is so important to say out loud to myself and anyone else who’s in the thick of it, that it is ok to feel however you feel in the moment.  But keep leaning in. 

“How’s It Going?” You Ask? – A 4-Week Postpartum Check In

So everyone is asking me the same question…… “So, how it’s going?!”

I look at them and half smile, take a long pause with an extended sigh, and say, “Good!”

Here’s what I don’t tell most people (some people, of course, get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth).  It all runs through my head in an instant during the sigh.

How’s it going?

Well, let’s see…I’ve got a new tiny baby who, although perfect and adorable and amazing in every way, lives in my house now.  He’s fully dependent on his parents for every little thing.  He doesn’t acknowledge my existence, but demands every ounce of everything I Calhave, making me feel like most days I’ve given all I can give by 10 a.m.  He is sleeping at night, but still up every 3 hours to eat.  And then of course because he has gas and spit up issues and is already rocking a gnarly cold with congestion galore, we have to keep him upright for at least 20 minutes after he eats so he doesn’t die or something — making a simple middle of the night bottle feed feel like an eternity, even though it lasts for only 45 minutes (if I don’t fall asleep holding him in that last 20 minutes – then it’s anyone’s guess when I wake up hoping I haven’t dropped him and get myself back to bed).  And during the day he sleeps best when attached to me in some way, making it impossible to get anything done.  I know I need to just lay him down and let him cry but then there goes my relaxing nap time!  Seriously, my victory at the end of the day is knowing that we are all alive and that I maybe unloaded the dishwasher…or at least had the presence of mind to write it down on the to-do list I never look at anymore. And that’s just Cal.

Then there’s Josie, who has always been amazing and stubborn and goofy and empathetic with a large dose of sass.  Now that she’s almost 3 and simultaneously going Josie and Calthrough a major life change where she has to realize she isn’t the center of the universe, she’s really amped up the stubborn and the sass.  Oh my.  Screaming, disobeying, hitting – you name it – she’s doing it.  Now, in between those meltdowns are amazing memories that I will try to use to block out the other low points she’s bringing me to these days.  Sweet moments where she begs to hold Cal, where he makes a tiny whimper and she sprints from any room in the house to force-feed him his paci.  Every time she talks to him, her voices goes up an extra octave and her smile is ear to ear.  Those are the things I will remember instead of us yelling at each other to stop crying and yelling at each other (Parenting Tip:  This method does not work.  If you find yourself in this situation, immediately question all of your life decisions, and then abort mission.  You’re welcome).

And then there’s Ryan, whom I love but don’t really know right now.  Who walks in from a long day at work and an even longer commute home to me telling him to choose which Ryan josie Calscreaming child he’d like to take a run at comforting.  Josie, locked in her high chair but throwing a world-ending fit because I “started” her string cheese for her.  Or Cal, who was quietly napping in the other room until the string cheese incident occurred.  Ryan, who loses his wife to either tears or sleep between 8 and 9 every night now (thankfully at 4 weeks postpartum, most nights it is sleep, not tears).  And Ryan, who has a million projects to do around the house, but forfeits those most of the time to engage with his family instead.  I mean, watching the relationship between Josie and her Daddy take off these last few weeks has been awesome.  Life-changing and life-saving (because prior to this she was all Mommy, all the time, and right now Mommy ain’t got time for that).

And then there’s me, who just to carve out an hour to write this blog, had to first drop Me and CalJosie off at daycare, let my baby scream while I showered, heat up coffee for the third time this morning, and get a spoonful of leftover chocolate buttercream icing from the fridge.  (*Real life update: Just finishing this 30 hours later.)  Me, who had to make some tough choices in the last few weeks (like going from nursing to pumping to formula, but more on that in another post).  And sometimes the choices were only tough because in the few weeks after having a baby, my mental capacity for decision-making is basically zero.

Week 1 example: Ryan’s sisters wants to order us dinner for delivery all the way from Arizona?  Awesome!  I cry, and then Ryan hands me the menu and I cry harder because I can’t decide what to order.  All the while knowing I won’t enjoy the meal anyway because I have anxiety that hits between 5-7 p.m. the first week or two postpartum for fear of what the night may bring.

Week 2 example: I have Cal sleeping quietly in my arms, but I need to pee, so I decide to put him down.  The time between when the decision was made and the actual putting him down was at least 15 minutes, because I was just paralyzed (until the bathroom thing became a real motivator).

Week 3 example: I get text messages from my Radio Theology peeps and I want to go back sooooooo bad, but I can’t even muster enough courage to text them back to say that I’m not ready yet and feel like I have nothing to offer anyone.  (*Healthy update: by Week 4 I was back in action)

Week 4 example: Shave my legs.  Ok, fine, I didn’t shave all the way up, I stopped at the knee because it was just too big of a commitment.

And me, who admits out loud when I can, to the best moms I know, including my own, that I don’t know how people do this.  They each give the same answer, by the way, and it is this: They just do.  You figure it out.  And keep figuring it out.  You talk to other moms about it so you don’t feel at all alone.  And you let yourself laugh and cry and succeed and fail again and again.

So, to answer your question – how’s it going?  It’s good!  Reeeeaaaalllly good…with all the other tough stuff in between.  And that’s ok.

And a big fat P.S. A HUGE thank you to our amazing family and friends for all of the help they’ve given us – with meals, toddler-watching and baby-holding, cleaning, cooking, and doses and doses of encouragement.  You guys rock.  And are the reason that people can do this.

5 Things I Learned From 2 False Labor Alarms

Monday night.  Midnight.

I wake up to a painful contraction, take some deep breaths, and decide that I probably have to pee.  As soon as I get out of bed, I’m shaking from head to toe.  Full body.  Teeth chattering.  I think, this is labor.  My contraction never let up.  Couldn’t even time it because it wasn’t uncontracting.  Call the doctor.  She says come on in.  I burst into tears.  We get to the hospital, and everything stops.  Contractions.  Shaking.  Everything.  2 AM, they send me home in what would be our first drive of shame.

Tuesday night. 9:30 PM.  (Warning: TMI ahead)

Ryan and I are sitting on the couch.  I feel a tiny gush in my pants.  I go to the bathroom to investigate.  I pee.  And also lots of other fluid is coming out of a different location.  Immediately my teeth start chattering again with all the shaking.  It’s intense.  I sit back on the couch to calm myself and see if anything else could be happening.  Contractions here and there.  I repeat this 3 different times, all with the same result – bursts of fluid.  I call the doctor to explain that I think my water broke.  She says come on in.  We do.  They test the fluid.  It wasn’t my water.  Their best explanation is urine.  Really?!  11:15 PM, we complete our second drive of shame.

What I know now that I didn’t know then…

False Labor Alarm

Lessons Learned from 2 False Alarms:

  1. Apparently I don’t know the difference between peeing myself and my water breaking: You’d think with all the experience I’ve had peeing, even in my pants, especially these last 9 months, I could tell that I just peed myself.  But this is not the case.  I will now take this off of my list of life skills.
  2. Teeth chattering and full body shaking are not my sign of labor: From back to back nights of these shenanigans, I now realize that although the shaking came instantly after a “labor sign”, the more likely fact is that as soon as my mind registers that I’m in labor, I start involuntarily freaking out through these aggressive body quakes. Next time, I’ll crawl underneath a blanket and try to chill the heck out.
  3. I need to ask the doctor to ask me more questions: Had the night one doctor asked me any questions about how far apart my contractions are, etc. or told me to time them and call back, I could’ve saved us a lot of trouble. Had night two doctor asked me if I had soaked a pad or had fluid running down my leg, again, we could’ve stayed home.  But I didn’t know!  And they didn’t ask these questions until I was checked into triage.
  4. You really can lose more dignity than you thought possible during pregnancy: Of course I expected to lose my last shreds of dignity during labor, but not false labor.  It’s not my first rodeo!  I didn’t think I’d ever be the mom sent home from the hospital once, let alone twice.  Night one was pretty embarrassing, but the nurse even told me it happened to her and this is her full-time job!  That helped a little.  Night two was just mortifying.  When the doctor looks at you, gives you the pity pat on the leg, and unconvincingly says, “It’s good you came in just in case…” it is perfectly acceptable to feel like dying.
  5. Our family and friends rock: Not only are Ryan and I well-versed in the “grab the bags and let’s get to the hospital” game, so are our friends and family. Twice our families have rearranged schedules, packed bags, and even hopped in the car only to be told to turn around.  And they’ll do it all again – hopefully only once – in the next 2 weeks.

We were joking (but seriously) that when I’m actually in labor, I won’t tell anyone and won’t go to the hospital because my confidence is so shaken.  I’ll end up giving birth in the tub at home just to save face.  Which would actually be my worst nightmare.

With two back to back nights of excitement, and two more weeks until my due date, I think things will be pretty calm for a while.  I’ll relish the last days as a family of 3, get a few things done around the house, continue to work, and let my unborn just get super chubby in there.

And, of course, await a dramatic entrance into the world from my tiny that will make for another great story.

Why I’ve Been Hiding From My Own Blog

I started this blog because I really enjoy writing as an outlet for creativity and storytelling.  My highest goal is to share my story in order to create a community of women who may need to hear that someone else’s toddler picks up dead worms on the sidewalk in an effort to clean, kisses fish straight outta the pond, and throws fits at all the most opportune times.  That although I don’t sprinkle when I tinkle, I’ve lost bladder control far more than I’d like to admit during this pregnancy.  That most days I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing in motherhood, but I’m doing the best I can.

Aaaaaaand, I’ve only written about sprinkling whilst tinkling in the past month because we’ve just been going through it!  And what I actually feel and have thought that I should write about is a little scary… and not what you would expect from someone almost ready to pop out a kid.  But here goes…

Confession time:

  • I’m pretty terrified to have this baby: They say women forget the pain of childbirth because of the sheer joy of having brought a child into this world. It’s even in the Bible somewhere.  It is False. I remember every pain, every moment of chaos, every second of losing my mind to the point of spitting and yelling and ripping off my clothes (another post for another time, my friends).  So to know that at any moment this can and will happen to me again…you can see why I’m a little anxious.  (Million Dollar Idea: epidurals delivered to your house so your first bad contraction can be the last one you feel!)
  • I hate the baby stage: To be clear, I already love my baby.  And hate may be too strong of a word, but the baby stage is my least favorite.  Babies don’t do anything.  They aren’t interactive, aside from their smiles that come to save the day at 6-8 weeks old.  They can’t give you any indication of what’s wrong with them.  And the worst part is that you’re living with this tiny helpless human while you’re losing your mind with hormone shifts, night sweats, and no sleep.  Ummm, no thanks.  I’m not looking forward to this.
  • Josie’s longest phase yet about killed me: She’s just over 2 ½ and discovered that she has fears.  Specifically, wind and ants.  Seriously?!  And those fears have led to this stupid separation anxiety or something that made her scream as soon as we left her room at bedtime.  It was heartbreaking.  And although I can tell myself that THIS TOO SHALL PASS, not knowing when it would pass or how best to help her had me all worked up.  Seriously beside myself.  All day anticipating the screaming that would happen that night.  Sobbing as she was crying in her bed.  Mess.  And every night closer to bringing home a little baby.  (Update: as of writing time, we are 4 nights into peaceful bedtimes.  Thank you, Jesus!)

The combo of these three things, in addition to regular old life (full-time job, part-time job, wife, home remodel, a teeny tiny social life)…I was feeling really overwhelmed.  Emotional control has not been my companion during these last several months of pregnancy and change.  And while that’s fun for my This Week in Lisa’s Pregnancy segments on Radio Theology, it doesn’t make me feel “ready” in any way to have a baby.

Be it painful or smooth-sailing, It'll become part of my story.

How to Balance the New and Exciting with the Holy Crap and the Anxiety:

  • Tell someone: This week, as I felt like I was emerging from the (emotional) woods (mostly thanks to Josie’s tear-free bedtimes), I did an experiment. I told a guy I just met that I didn’t like the baby stage.  And you know what happened?  I got a high five and an “I can’t wait to go home and tell my wife.”  And we chatted about how the fun we have with our slightly older kiddies feels like the sweet spot.
  • Make peace: I’m about to pop. I can’t even change positions on the couch without sweating.  And there is a day coming in my near future where I’ll face all of the unknowns, probably at the same time.  This too shall pass, and be it painful or smooth-sailing, I will welcome it into my story.  And I’ll have a beautiful baby boy who we’ll raise into a wonderful man, and a big sister who will take this world by storm.
  • Take care: Through the roller coaster of emotions the past few weeks, I’ve practiced self-care by giving myself lots of grace in moments of chaos. I’ve gotten extra hours of much-needed sleep.  I’ve spent great time with friends and family while enjoying the break that extra helping hands provide.  I’ve pretended to nest (because the real pregnancy nesting thing must’ve skipped me).  And I’ve found a song that I sing out loud when I can believe the words and listen to when I can’t.

it is well with my soul

So friend, here I go, off into my last 4 ½ weeks of pregnancy (or less).  And I already feel better than I did when I sat down to write.  Sharing your story is a powerful way to fend off isolation.  So if you can see yourself in any part of my story, I hope you feel encouraged and loved and inspired to hold your own confession time with a friend.  And if you can’t, share it with someone who may need some hope!

sharing your story is a powerful way to fend off isolation

learn-this-one-skill

Moments that invite fear.

These have happened to me SEVERAL times in the course of my 2 ½ year motherhood.

  • Josie has a really high fever.
  • Josie needs discipline for the first time.
  • Josie’s room thermometer shows a one degree drop, meaning that she must’ve died and is a human ice cube chilling the room. (I didn’t say they were all rational.)
  • Josie is ready for her big girl bed a lot earlier than I thought (as evidenced by the fearless crib climbing).
  • Josie wakes up in terror with piles of barf on her bed for the first time.

crib-climber

Or the latest, this week.  Twice I had moments of fear (compounded by pregnancy hormones).  One was when Josie was crying in bed after we had said goodnight.  She was beside herself, but we had also been through 2 weeks of her using every trick in the book to get back out of bed once she was tucked in.  And knowing that every possible need of hers was met, we let her cry.  I hadn’t done this since she was a baby, and even then I didn’t ever let her cry more than 10 minutes.  And usually she fell asleep after 2-3 minutes, which still feels like a full hour.  So on this night, Ryan and I set the timer.  5 minutes.  We’d let her cry and then go from there.  But during this time, I was gripped with every possible fear:

  • She hates me.
  • I’m letting her down.
  • I’m scarring her for life.
  • She really does need something and her life is probably in danger. Even though I can hear her crying, somehow she’s already dead.  (Seriously.)

It took me a full two minutes to calm myself down, to start speaking positivity and truth into my chaos, and to switch from fear to faith.  And guess what?  It took Josie 3 full minutes before she was totally passed out and slept all night.  And woke up with her usual smile and affection for her mother.

The second moment this week took a little longer for me to move past.  We met Ryan’s parents for dinner to drop Josie off so she could spend the weekend at their place, and so Ryan and I could be productive around our house and have a date night.  I kid you not, I LIVE FOR THESE MOMENTS.  Dropping her off is one of my greatest joys!  Sounds a little harsh, I realize, but when you have loving family members that regularly pour into your child, you take advantage!  And I’m never worried, but as I loaded Josie in the car seat in her Gigi and Papa’s car, I kissed her quickly and ran for my life before she really had a chance to get upset.  Josie was fine, and hadn’t cried when Ryan said goodbye either.  In fact, she said, “Bye Daddy!  See you on Sunday!”  What a relief!  But guess who actually did lose her mind?  Me.  I was crying before I got in the car, my mind racing with worry.  Worry that she wouldn’t sleep well in a “big bed,” or that she would wake up and be a bother to them in the middle of the night, and worry that she would die in a car accident on the way down there.  Seriously.  Every stinking worry I could have, reasonable or completely unreasonable, took hold of my mind.  Until I made the conscious decision to STOP IT.  And move from fear to faith. 

What’s the reoccurring theme here?  My first thought, in ALL of these scenarios is “I’m not equipped for this!”  Sometimes it is specific: My middle child, peacemaker personality is not equipped to be a consistent disciplinarian.  Sometimes it is vague: I’m not equipped for motherhood in general.  If I’m feeling this way as the mother of ONE TODDLER, how will I feel as the mother of 2?  As the mother of teenagers?  As the mother of grown children? 

But this is the trick, the key.  The speed with which I move from fear to faith directly correlates to the amount of joy I experience as a mother. 

Some thoughts on Fear:

  • Silly, irrational fear: Don’t stay here. Don’t live in this place.  Shut it down and move on.
  • Fear of inadequacy in a moment that doesn’t really matter: Figure this out quickly.  In the case of walking into Josie’s room at night and finding piles of vomit on her bed for the first time, I was paralyzed for 5 seconds before my instincts kicked in, and I moved into action.  We may not have handled this perfectly, but we did the best we could and in the end, it doesn’t really matter how we dealt with the barf.  Josie was safe and well-loved.
  • Fear of inadequacy in moments that do matter: Discipline. First, know that there’s a phase of “new stuff” every 3 weeks in a kid’s life. As soon as you get used to one thing, and feel like you’ve got it under control, your kid starts biting or hitting or talking back.  Something totally new.  This has happened to me so many times.  And the key I’ve found is that the more prepared I feel for each situation, the less time I spend in fear.  So, as soon as Josie started biting, I did some research, I asked friends and family for advice.  I chose a course of action, and moved forward confidently.
  • Reoccurring fear: Whatever this may be for you, take the time to dig into it.  Don’t ignore fear and pretend like you’re not experiencing it.  Set aside some time when you’re not crippled by said fear, and figure it out.  Get to the bottom of it.

Some thoughts on Faith:

  • Faith in yourself: When you become a mom, you really do get this instinct and are equipped along the way for what your tiny might throw at you (literally or figuratively). Take heart that you’re doing the best you can!
  • Faith in God: I really believe that God not only chose Josie to be my child out of all the millions of sperm and egg combinations, but also that He cares for and provides wisdom for us to parent her.
  • Faith as a Verb: This is the big one or me.  When I say faith, I don’t mean this abstract, just pray about it, just push fear aside and hope for the best!  Faith in action.  Equip yourself!  Read and research!  Ask for help from trusted sources!  And make sure you’re setting aside time for yourself so that you’re joyful and reenergized when these situations come about, not always drained and at your wits end.   

This isn’t easy.  Moving from fear to faith is super hard and takes lots of practice.  But it’s a skill worth learning – for your sake and for your child’s sake!  The more I practice this, the more confident I feel.  The deeper joy I find in motherhood.  The more freedom I feel to practice self-care and pour into people and things other than my child!  And as my family grows, and our lives transition over and over and over again as we raise our kids into adults, I hope to look back at this time in life and know that every step along the way I did the work to be confident and prepared in the next step.

the-speed-with-which-i-move