I’m not yelling at my kids today…. maybe

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#imnotyellingatmykidstoday

I consider myself a quasi-attachment/cloth diapering/natural minded/feminist/breastfeeding supportive/environmentally conscious/nouveau hippie type of parent.  When my kids are upset I’ll hold them close and repeat “breathe and calm down, breathe and calm down…”. They’re so used to it that they even console each other with that little mantra and for the most part it works beautifully.  I teach my kids to be kind to the world and to find kindness in even the darkest corners.  I try to teach them not to give such high regard to material things but, tablets are cool and sometimes they’re life savers.

So, while it may sound like we have this airy-fairy kumbaya family dynamic, make no mistake, I can and do lose my shit.  I’m not a spanker and I don’t hold judgments for those who do because to each their own.  But I am a yeller.

I am lucky enough to work from home for the most part.  I do most of my marketing and correspondence from home then teach classes, meet with clients and attend births outside of the house.  This can be a blessing and a curse, however.  I love that when days are slow and the house is clean I can sit and be lazy with my babies and watch whatever weird new cartoon they’re into on Netflix or Hulu.  We’ll swim, paint, make bracelets and sit together for lunch.  But on busy days when I’m sending out emails, invoices, press releases or making phone calls that I’ve put off for days, the fighting, bickering, nagging for snacks, potty training, messy rooms, meal preps, and repetitive requests to PICK UP YOUR TOYS is frustratingly overwhelming.

And that’s when I lose my shit.  That’s when I don’t care if they breathe and calm down.  That’s when the toy I’ve been tripping over the whole week gets thrown in the trash along with any other collateral damage in it’s vicinity.  That’s when privileges get revoked. That’s when they can forget about whatever fun outing I half-heartedly promised to take them to if they just listened for the rest of the day (I knew they’d fail miserably, it was just my shameful attempt at some peace and quiet during a client call).  That’s when I STRAIGHT LOSE MY SHIT!!!!

I yell things like “Are you kidding me??? How many times do I have to tell you?? CLEAN YOUR ROOM!! Am I talking to myself?!?! Say ‘okay, mommy’ say ‘okay, mommy!!” And then the countdown begins “1…2…” followed by their “Okay mommy!!” as they sob out of my line of destruction.

To be honest, this is a daily occurrence and no, I’m not proud.  I feel bad every single time I yell at my kids.  I remind myself that I’m teaching them to yell in response to frustration and that makes me feel worse.  I’ve yelled so loud before that I’m sure my neighbors have heard me and I feared, if even for a second, they’d call CPS.

Last night I was preparing my son’s lunch for a school program he’s attending this week.  I know the challenges he has in the classroom and I knew he’d be working with a teacher he hasn’t worked with before.  My immediate thought was, great, they’re going to know I haven’t done any practice work all summer.  They’re going to know I haven’t helped him with completing his work which is something he struggles with in class.  I got annoyed at the prospect of judgment I’d be facing the next day.  That annoyance would normally turn into frustration which would then turn into anger which I’d likely take out on my kids.  Instead, when I went to kiss him goodnight I sat on his bed and told him, “Okay, so tomorrow you’re going to have some work to do at school.  You’re probably going to remember most of what the teacher is talking about but you might have to try really hard to remember other things.  So tell yourself right now that you’re going to try your best and work super hard tomorrow to finish all your work.  Pray to God, too, if you want and he’ll help you when you’re stuck.”  Then I kissed him goodnight and went to finish his lunch.  I wrote him a mommy love note that I tucked in his lunchbag  to remind him of everything we talked about and then, I just let it go.  That’s when I decided that I’m not yelling at my kids today. #imnotyellingatmykidstoday

Because in all honesty, yelling is an immature response for me and for a lot of people.  Instead of dealing with the situation calmly I fly off the handle and act out.  Much like my kids do when they’re frustrated.  I felt good about the way I handled the situation with my son.  I felt good about recognizing the pattern I could’ve easily fallen into because it’s all too familiar to me and deciding to respond in a more positive and calm manner.

It’s 2:00 p.m. as I’m writing this and so far I haven’t yelled at my kids.  Granted, one of them is at school and the other two are happily making a mess in their bedroom that I’m sure will piss me off later but, #imnotyellingatmykidstoday.  And hopefully, I’ll end the day with #ididntyellatmykidstoday.

And while I’m sure you’re all that picture perfect kumbaya family that would never yell at your kids, humor me as I challenge you to not yell at your kids today.  Share your story and mine with your friends and family and add the hashtags #imnotyellingatmykidstoday or #ididntyellatmykidstoday. But most of all, good luck.  Here’s to us not losing our shit on our kids.

What’s with all the stuff??

When I became pregnant for the first time, I was a frequent peruser and consumer at all the big baby stores and websites.  I would comb the aisles admiring all the stuff that promised to make mothering so much easier for my baby and I.  I read up on all the reviews of best monitors, feeding pillows, recliners, nursing pads, bottles, diapers, wipes, car seats, high chairs…. well, you get it as I’m sure you’ve been there.  I signed up for all the baby update emails and would swipe every pregnancy magazine from my OB’s office (I figured if I got busted I would blame it on pregnancy brain, oopsy!).  I read all the recommended reading for expecting women (and then some) .  Needless to say, I felt like a wealth of information by the time baby came.  I knew the in’s and out’s of every baby product I’d purchased or was given and was ready to use all this great life-changing stuff.  Life was going to be a breeze.  How did moms ever live without all this stuff anyway?

Then the big day came. We followed the checklist that told us what stuff to pack for the hospital stay.  I made sure to take my breastfeeding pillow with me to the hospital since it was going to be a lifesaver when it came to nursing comfortably. I had my perfect baby boy and the time came for my first attempt to breastfeed my baby on my handy dandy feeding pillow.  I grabbed my teeny 6 lb. 4 oz. baby boy and plopped him on.  Ahhhh, life is good…. until it’s not.  This thing sucked!  He was falling through and I was totally uncomfortable.  What the hell? The nurse came in and shoved more pillows in around me than I could count.  To prop him, to prop me, to relieve my back, to rest my arm.  It was insane! Not to mention discouraging as hell.  I told myself it was just a learning process and we’d get the hang of using the pillow (P.S. we didn’t, I have a love/hate relationship with that thing but somehow I managed to nurse him until 19 months).

Fast forward through fails and successes of various monitors, strollers, pumps (oh those damn breast pumps), spoons, bath tubs, foods, bibs (again, you get it) and two kids later when I finally realized that all that life-saving/changing stuff is total bullshit.  That feeding pillow is bullshit.  That bathtub thermometer, bullshit.  Bassinette, bullshit. That spoon that changes color to tell you their food is too hot, bullshit.  Sorry video monitor lovers, that’s bullshit.  Wipee warmers, okay not total bullshit ’cause I don’t like cold wipes on my ass either but by principal, bullshit. The diaper pail with that spinny trash bag, TOTAL BULLSHIT!  I seriously saw a pail that was $80.  $80!!!  Oh, that reminds me, changing table? Really?

While all this stuff sounds like it will revolutionize the way you care for your baby, have you ever wondered how mothers without all this stuff care for their babies?  Because, after all, it is possible.  So why do we think we need all the stuff?

When we’re pregnant, all of a sudden our decision-making abilities are questioned.  A lot. We face a continuous outpouring of advice, solicited or not, day in and day out.  We hear what we should and shouldn’t do about EVERYTHING starting the minute we announce our pregnancy. And when we’re faced with so many people questioning our choices we start to doubt ourselves (baby companies know this and thrive on it).  It’s only natural and it happens to even the most strong-minded women. We question our capabilities on just about every aspect of raising and caring for our babies. How will we ever make enough milk to feed our baby without a breast pump? Answer, get a breast pump.  How will we ever get into a comfortable and “ergonomically” correct position to feed our baby? Answer, feeding pillow.  How will we ever change our baby’s diaper without a changing table then wipe their butts with cold wipes and hide any olfactory evidence?  Answers, changing table, warmer and specially designed trash can, err, diaper pail.

These gadgets make a fortune off of unsuspecting and vulnerable new mothers and even some experienced mothers (seriously, it’s an almost 50 billion dollar a year industry).    We don’t want to be perceived as bad mothers for any decision we make regarding our children.  And for some women, people’s opinions can weigh heavily on the choices they make.  So we buy the stuff that’s supposed to help us be better mothers without questioning who’s bottom line it is actually benefiting.

When you stop to think of all the mother/expectant-mother directed industries like formula companies, hospitals, diaper companies, and all those companies that make those gadgets and doohickies, they all present the same expectations to the mother: if you buy/consume our products/services, your baby will be happier/healthier/sleep better/eat better/be more comfortable/develop better which will help mother be happier/ healthier/sleep better/eat better/be more comfortable.  That sounds amazing, right!

So why not get all the stuff if it can potentially help mom and baby?  What’s wrong with that?  The problem with all the stuff is they can create doubt and insecurities in mothers.  For example, a new mother hoping to breastfeed may feel that in order to make a sufficient amount of milk for her baby she will need to use a breast pump.  However, a breast pump can actually create a milk production problem for mom, especially right after birth.  Mom may overproduce at first then become engorged which can lead to extremely uncomfortable feedings, flatter nipples which may make it challenging for baby to latch on to the breast, plugged ducts, mastitis, and may even decrease her milk supply.  Breast pumps are often unnecessary unless mothers need to provide breastmilk for their compromised infants, they’re returning to work or school or if they’re planning to be away from their baby for a period of time.  I would even recommend that mothers speak to their lactation consultants before considering the use of a breast pump.  Yet, mothers often feel a breast pump is something they need in order to be successful at breastfeeding.  In fact, many mothers may experience feelings of failure when the breast pump only draws a small amount of milk from the mother’s breast when in reality the pump is in no way an indicator of how much milk the mother is actually producing.

While gadgets like breast pumps and feeding pillows may sound “convenient”, they can (and often do) create a barrier between the mother’s natural instincts and her child.  Take me for example, with my first baby, I purchased that color changing spoon so I could be sure his food was at the “perfect” temperature for him to eat.  I look back now and ask myself why I didn’t just try it myself!  That spoon, like all that other stuff, created a barrier for me because it created this unrealistic expectation that I had to do everything perfectly for my baby.  He was perfect so I had to do everything I could to meet this perfect standard.  That spoon in its infinite wisdom represented perfection.  What a load of crap.  He’s a baby, and while, yes, we all think our babies are perfect, just like us they’re not perfect.  They have different needs that need to be met differently and we, as their mothers, are perfectly equipped to meet those needs.  Really.

The stuff can breed feelings of failure.  I used to feel like I wasn’t holding my baby correctly when I tried nursing him on the feeding pillow.  He didn’t latch properly and it became painful  He would cry nonstop and I worried that he was hungry (I know now that he was constantly nursing because he was just cluster feeding).  But I honestly thought it was because I was doing something wrong.  I always felt like I was doing something wrong.  The stuff gave me a false sense of security like maybe I had a chance at getting something right because I couldn’t possibly be fooled by a cotton-stuffed C-shaped piece of fabric.  And yet, I was.

Maybe this came with experience (as most things do) but with my second and third babies I just learned to minimize.  I didn’t fill my diaper bag with all that stuff I “needed” in case the baby, I don’t know, spontaneously combusted.  I didn’t use the pillow or color changing spoons.  I didn’t buy those fancy burp towels or shoes for every outfit.  I just did with what I had and you know what, things got much easier.  I also developed a greater sense of security  and confidence in my own instincts.

Letting go of all that stuff taught me to be more aware of my baby’s most basic needs.  I became much more in tune with my kids because I learned to overcome obstacles by going bare bones and just adapting.  I learned that while the stuff may be nice and somewhat useful it really isn’t something my baby or I need.  It is, after all, just stuff.

You know that saying “What would Jesus do”?  Well I often find myself thinking “What would a mother from a small Mexican village do?” or “What would a mother in Africa do?” and that really seems to ground me.  Those mothers aren’t afraid of judgment or feel inadequate as mothers for not having a fancy diaper pail or specific piece of furniture to change their baby’s diapers.  They’re not worried about buying some swaddling blanket that claims to knock your baby out as soon as you wrap them up.  They’re just caring for their babies as best they can and doing an amazing job at it.  It’s inspiring.

Mothers have a deeply rooted and unfailing ability to care for their babies.  We have the abilities to meet all their most basic needs just by being their mothers.  We’re their incubators, their food source, their nurseries, their source of unconditional love, their playground, and their home.  They need little else, as do we.

LOVE and PEACE- WELCOME!

Welcome!!  Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  I hope that this will be a place where women can come for support during pregnancy, birthing, breastfeeding, and beyond.

I’m 35, a SAHM of three littles ages 7,4, and 2, and I’ve been married almost 15 years to my high school sweetheart.  I can’t say I’ve always had a passion for all things birthy and breastfeeding but I always knew I would be involved in the birth community to some degree (I actually wrote in my senior memory book that I saw myself as an obstetrician helping my sisters deliver their babies).  Well, I’m no OB but my interests have shifted to becoming a midwife within the next few years.  For now I’m a childbirth hypnosis educator and lactavist.

I’ve been breastfeeding for the last 7 years (with a few months break in between each baby) with no clear end in sight.  It was a bumpy road when I started with my oldest baby but I’ve learned many valuable lessons along the way and I continue to learn something new as I continue on this journey of motherhood.

I attribute these lessons to the kind of mother I am today.  I’ve made mistakes (LOTS of them) and figured out what works best for me at this point in my life.  But life evolves and changes and what works today may not work tomorrow. So, I’ll try my best and learn from the changes to adapt as best I can.

I think one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned and that I try to share with other mothers is to trust my own instincts.  I remember back to when my husband and I were planning our wedding.  We met with the chaplain for some pre-marital advice and to go over the ceremony.  I was 20 and my husband was 22 and neither of us had the slightest clue what we were getting ourselves into.  The chaplain sat us down to talk to us about the life we were about to start together and how being open and honest  was going to be key to a successful relationship.  Pretty standard.  Then he told us something that I easily dismissed at the time but have since kept in mind for every decision I make.  He said “Listen to the experts, then do what you want”.  We said thank you, he married us a few weeks later, and off we went to start our lives together.

His words didn’t mean much to me until we started having children 7 years later.  It seems like, as women, when we announce we’re pregnant our intelligence and decision making abilities are no longer credible to the public so every one else becomes an expert.  The “should’s” start flying at us. “You should breastfeed”. “You should sleep train”. “You should let him cry it out”. “You shouldn’t let him cry so much”. Should, should, should!  I used to take people’s advice and “should’s” as judgment.  I thought, why would someone be telling me how I should do things unless I’m doing something wrong?  The “should’ers” really took a toll on my confidence as a mother and I knew I had to change.  I started to do something society makes it so hard for women to do: I started to trust myself.

The “should’ers” are everywhere.  They feed on our insecurities and we encounter them regularly. They’re well-meaning friends and family members.  They’re on TV and the internet. In the grocery store aisles and book stores.  Everyone telling us or selling us the solution to how to be a better parent than we are when the only place we need to look for the solution is within ourselves.  So, trust yourself.  Yes, you’ll make mistakes but you’ll learn from them and do better.  So just listen to the “should’ers” and the experts then do what you want.

I accept that I won’t get everything right and I’ve stopped trying to.  I’m getting it right enough that my kids are well taken care of, deeply loved, and happy.  I’m going to continue hearing the “shoulds” (as you will too) and I’ll take to heart the ones that will teach me something I’m willing to accept.  Over the years it’s become important to me to be at peace with the decisions I make, to fully stand behind those decisions and to surround myself with supportive people.

I’m no expert but I do have one “should” for you.  You should fill your day with love so your mind can be at peace.  You’ve got this.

Love and Peace…..

and more to come